And Then There Were Five Ballot Measures

According to a press release from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, an initiative seeking to increase the Tobacco Tax has gained approval and will be on the fall ballot:

Initiative No. 143 would amend Colorado’s constitution so that starting in January taxes on a pack of cigarettes would increase from 84 cents per pack to $2.59 per pack. The tax on other tobacco products would increase by 22 percent of the manufacturers’ list price. The language in the measure spells out how specific percentages of tax revenues would be spent.

As of today, there are five measures that are approved for the statewide ballot:

  1. ColoradoCare (single-payer health insurance)
  2. Minimum Wage Increase
  3. Medical Aid in Dying
  4. Making it Harder to Amend the Constitution
  5. Tobacco Tax Increase

Four other proposed initiatives are still awaiting final ballot approval:

  1. Primary Elections
  2. Presidential Primary Elections
  3. Local Control for Oil & Gas Drilling
  4. Mandatory Setbacks in Oil & Gas Drilling

 

 

How To Not Inspire Confidence In Your Field Campaign

imer23n-5-web
Trump’s Jefferson County co-chair Weston Imer.

FOX 31’s Joe St. George:

In one of the most important elections of our lifetime, in one of the most important counties in the state, the Donald Trump campaign is relying heavily on a 12 year old to help open a field office.

Weston Imer is co-chair of the campaign in Jefferson County.

If you stopped by the field office at the corner of 27th and Youngfield in Wheat Ridge Friday, you would have seen young Weston instructing volunteers on what to do, as well as making phone calls to supporters…

Now first of all, we think it’s totally cool that a 12-year-old kid is interested enough in politics to put in long hours volunteering to help open a campaign office. When we say we wish there were more kids interested in politics and willing to actually get involved in a meaningful way, we mean it–and Weston Imer is living the dream.

But with that said, no, we obviously don’t think having a 12-year-old kid as the co-chair of Donald Trump’s campaign in the pivotal swing suburban battleground of Jefferson County, Colorado is a good idea. The Trump campaign’s reputation for the hiring of campaign operatives most charitably described as “second string,” meaning losers and total unknowns, is not helped by putting a 12-year-old “in charge” of deploying volunteers and making phone calls. It almost seems like the Trump campaign is deliberately pushing Weston Imer’s story of “running the Jeffco office” as a positive for them.

With all due respect to a great kid with a bright future, this isn’t a good story for Trump.

Rep. Kevin Priola Doubles Down on “Family Values” Gaffe

priolakidsOne of the more significant messaging problems for Colorado Republicans this year during the legislative session was a gaffe committed by Rep. Kevin Priola, now a candidate for the Colorado Senate in closely-divided Senate District 25 in Adams County. Priola was part of a committee debating a bill to expand family leave rights for employees to attend their children’s academic functions. Priola voted no on the bill, but not before requesting a delay of the vote so he could take his own children to a doctor’s appointment.

The issue is expected to loom large in Priola’s closely-watched race for the Senate against Democratic opponent Jenise May–and as the Colorado Statesman’s John Tomasic reports, Priola seems eager to tackle the problem head-on:

This year at the Legislature, progressive groups pilloried Priola for voting against a parental leave bill after asking for time off from the committee that was considering the bill in order to take one of his kids to the doctor. Priola’s critics called him a hypocrite.

Priola said the flap actually says something positive about how he goes about his work at the Legislature.

“Honestly, it was going door to door that colored my decision on that bill. I’ve probably knocked 45,000 doors through the years. Not once, not one time, has one person ever said, ‘You know what, I really wish I had time off to go to my kids parent-teacher conference. [Pols emphasis] That’s a problem in my life.’ That never happened, not one time. And that’s because people live in the real world. They have good relationships with their employers, and employers know that if they’re too harsh, employees will just call in sick to go to the conference, or they’ll say their aunt died…

“It’s having that real world experience. I’m a small business owner. I work with people. I have lots of conversations. Too often, people run legislation that sounds good but that just clutters up the statutes, and no one is really coming to say this is a real problem. So you sometimes say, ‘C’mon, maybe this is just silly.’” [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, or at least we hope it isn’t needed, this is a really horrible answer. The truth is that working parents of school-age children do need leave from work from time to time to attend their children’s academic functions. Priola “never heard about it” knocking on doors because he didn’t ask. But if you ask parents if they think they should be able to take leave from work for their kid’s school functions, they’re going to say yes in overwhelming numbers.

And that’s why downplaying parents’ need for parental leave, and especially calling the issue “silly,” is a huge mistake for Priola. Democrats have already signaled an intent to attack Priola on this issue, and this dismissive response proves the point they are trying to make. Sure there are a lot of good bosses, but Priola’s assumption that everybody has a good boss just doesn’t hold water in middle-class reality.

To have made the original mistake during the legislative session is one thing. To crassly double down like this as a candidate in a tough race? That’s a sign of real hubris.

Tancredo on Coffman: “What a waste!”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo, Mike Coffman.

Tom Tancredo, Mike Coffman.

A couple weeks ago, former Rep. Tom Tancredo skewered Rep. Mike Coffman in his weekly Breitbart column, writing the “only thing authentic about [Coffman]vis his passionate desire to keep that House Member pin on his lapel.”

In a subsequent KNUS radio interview with guest host Matt Dunn, Tancredo said, “as a conservative, we would lose nothing” if Coffman lost his seat. And Tanc went further:

Tancredo: [W]hen he won the election, I was of course a supporter and was happy about the fact that he would be succeeding me in that office because of what he promised me, because of our discussions about the issues, especially immigration. And of course all those things have gone by the wayside, and done so because he feels that he has to give up those principles — if he ever held them. I don’t know if he has any real set of principles upon which — you know, that certain bedrock – I don’t know that they exist at all…As his district changes, so does he. He sort of morphs into a different person.

…I’ll tell you this: if Trump were polling well in his district, you would be hearing nothing but accolades from Mike Coffman about Donald Trump. So, it isn’t – it doesn’t really have anything to do with Trump’s positions, his faux pas, his – whatever. It’s got nothing to do with that. It’s got everything to do with Mike wanting to keep that little pin on his collar – I mean, on his lapel, on his suit, that indicates you’re a Member of Congress. Because that’s more important to him than anything else. And I’m just sick of this stuff! I’m sick of it because it’s a seat we could still retain by somebody better. And you know, you just think to yourself, “What a — what a waste!” [Aug. 11, KNUS Peter Boyles show]

Keep in mind that Coffman once called Tancredo his “hero.

Tancredo’s comments deserve wider media attention because they raise the question, again, of how many conservatives Coffman can piss off and still win a narrow majority in his district.

Monday Open Thread

“Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.”

–Thomas Huxley

Rep. Navarro on Cozying Up To Trump: “Damn Toot!”

We took note of the photo proudly posted to social media by Republican Rep. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo from a recent campaign swing through Denver by presidential nominee Donald Trump–running in a competitive district full of the kinds of voters likely to find Trump, well, repulsive, Rep. Navarro proudly sucking up to the GOP’s controversial nominee could be considered politically very risky.

Well folks, Rep. Navarro wanted our readers in particular to know she ain’t worried:

And that is indeed a much better quality photo of Rep. Navarro with Donald Trump, everybody! This one should print out much better on Democratic opponent Jason Munoz’s mail pieces. Like we’ve said, the danger of Navarro publicly linking herself to Donald Trump is that it forces her to own Trump’s prodigious baggage–meaning that Trump’s own popularity (or lack thereof) is what makes these photos toxic or not. Photos with a Latina Republican lawmaker are of course good for Trump, but we don’t see how they help Navarro much.

The downside, however, is as big as Trump’s gap in the polls. Trump’s downward trajectory does not inspire confidence in Navarro’s judgment.

The Saddest Vacancy Committee in Colorado

Cameron Forth

Cameron Forth

Cameron Forth is the new Republican candidate for State House in HD-18 (Colorado Springs). You might not know Cameron Forth, which is okay, because he probably doesn’t know you, either. And he’ll tell you that.

As of Thursday night, Forth is the new Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Pete Lee, who was first elected in 2010 and has been comfortably re-elected ever since (this is not your typical conservative Colorado Springs district; about half of HD-18 voters are registered Unaffiliated). Republicans had already nominated Sonya Rose as their candidate, but Rose decided that she didn’t want to run after all, so the GOP needed to quickly convene a vacancy committee.

The Colorado Independent covered the events at last night’s vacancy committee, and the result is one of the more unintentionally-hilarious stories of the 2016 election cycle. You really need to read the entire story, but in the meantime, here’s a fun excerpt to get you started:

Speaking from a lectern, Rose nominates local land surveyor Cameron Forth for the post. His previous political experience included running for Congress in Iowa as an independent a decade ago.

“I don’t even know anyone in this room,” Forth says to the assembled local Republicans when he accepted the nomination. [Pols emphasis]

But, to Forth’s apparent surprise, he’s quickly challenged.

Forth ended up (kinda) winning the vacancy committee, which wasn’t totally official because Republicans didn’t have enough people show up to qualify for a quorum (State Party Chair Steve House had to formally appoint Forth as the candidate later). Forth emerged as the choice of the vacancy committee after two rounds of voting, despite the fact that nobody knew who he was.

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

Morgan Carroll, Trade Groups Come Out Against Amendment 69

coloradocareFollowing up on the week’s blue-on-blue dustup over Amendment 69, the “ColoradoCare” initiative to set up single-payer health coverage in Colorado–after liberal groups and a large contingent of Democratic lawmakers came out against the measure this week at a press conference hosted by liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado, the AFL-CIO affiliated Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council representing 30,000 skilled trade workers in the state is urging its members to vote no:

“The Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council stands in opposition of Amendment 69. While our organization has a long history of fighting for national healthcare reform and for better benefits for our members, Amendment 69 would actually increase, and in many cases double, the healthcare costs of our construction industry employees represented by this council. It would also impact our fellow union members who travel to Colorado to help us build our infrastructure in Colorado.”

“The drafters of amendment 69 made broad assumptions that failed to recognize the complexities of the Taft-Hartley healthcare trust funds utilized by our employers and unions to provide healthcare to our members. Healthcare reform requires a national focus and uniform application to work for our members and this industry. For these reasons, we will be in opposition to Amendment 69.”

Background
Our organization has three main concerns with Amendment 69:

• Our members would be forced to pay the Colorado Care payroll tax surcharge for at least 3 years while the fund to implement the program was established – all the while continuing to contribute to their existing healthcare plan. This would double our members costs for at least the first three years of the program.

• Amendment 69 would double the costs for our members with working spouses. Currently our healthcare benefits provide full family coverage for children and spouses allowing the spouse to often waive healthcare benefits when they choose to work. Amendment 69 would force the working spouses of our members to pay payroll tax surcharges for Colorado Care regardless of whether they were covered under the plan of their spouses.

• Finally, Amendment 69 would require union construction workers from other states who come to Colorado work to pay twice, for their existing healthcare plan at their home local union in another state AND the Colorado Care payroll tax surcharge for the wages they earn in Colorado. It is unclear whether or not the out-of-state workers would ever receive any benefits under Colorado Care. Colorado unions would still be required to reimburse out-of-state sister unions for the traveling employees healthcare benefits.

Every bit as significant comes word today that Democratic congressional candidate Morgan Carroll in CD-6 will oppose Amendment 69:

Carroll is just the latest high-profile Democrat to oppose Amendment 69, joining a long list of respected leaders from former Gov. Bill Ritter and Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler to Gov. John Hickenlooper and much of the Democratic House caucus.

At this point, it should be evident that opposition to Amendment 69 is much stronger among liberal Democrats than anything that could be arranged by “corporate lobbyists” or other usual suspect blame receptacles. The policy objections raised by Democratic critics of the proposal, including the new problems voices by the trades council above, haven’t been acknowledged so much by Amendment 69’s proposed as dismissed out of hand. But along with objections raised by NARAL Pro Choice Colorado over access to abortion, these are legitimate concerns–not “misdirections” to be flip about.

And if it’s true that these weren’t adequately considered when Amendment 69 was drafted, well, that’s a big problem. The permanence of a constitutional amendment leaves no room for oversights of the kind these liberal interest groups allege. Unions and pro-choice advocates cannot be expected to go along with vague promises to address in the unspecified future problems they can see with their own eyes today.

When all of your allies are giving you the same bad news, it’s time to listen.

PROGRESS – WHEN?

(Sen. Irene Aguilar is a proponent of Amendment 69 – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Irene Aguilar (D).

Sen. Irene Aguilar (D).

In 2007 I had the privilege of serving on the Vulnerable Populations Task Force of Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform (Commission).  This is when I first learned that the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not provide access to basic health care for its entire population; yet we spend twice as much as almost every other developed nation. The Commission’s analysis also showed that by enacting a single payer financing system Colorado could afford full access to health care for every resident and decrease spending by $1.6 billion dollars in its first year.

Having worked as a Primary Care Physician at Denver Health for 18 years and witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the inability to afford basic health care on people’s lives, I was ecstatic to learn that there was a solution that was both socially just and fiscally conservative. I was certain that the Commission would recommend this plan.

Imagine my dismay when I was told by the chair of the House Committee on Health and Human Services:  “that’s all good and well Dr. Aguilar, but this will never happen in the United States.”

Fortunately, I turned that dismay into action. I determined to find a way to save lives (and money) and help Colorado become the first state in the nation to enact a single payer health care system.

The rest is history:

It is worth noting that the 2009 House Bill, 2011 Senate Bill and 2013 Senate Joint Resolution simply created a study group to analyze how Colorado might implement a universal health care system.

In 2015 a referendum was drafted but not introduced at the request of the Speaker of the House and her chief of staff.  When this happened, a group of activists working on universal health care took action and put Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, on the ballot. With volunteers from across the state over 156,000 signatures were collected and submitted in October 2015. ColoradoCare was approved for the ballot in November 2015.

(more…)

Laura Woods raffles off an AR15

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Sen. Laura Woods wants to be sure you’re clear:

—–

woodsar15

Desperate for attention and apparently cash starved, one brick shy of a full load Senator Laura Woods has decided to auction off every mass killer’s weapon of choice, an AR15 to fund her floundering campaign.

This is good news for Rachel Zenzinger, Woods’ sane opponent, in that these types of antics will not work in the Arvada/Wesminster senate district they are both seeking to represent.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 19)

Get More SmarterThe Rio Olympics come to a close this weekend. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Get More Smarter Show is back today, featuring an extended interview with Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County). Watch the interview and find out if Rep. Perlmutter will be going to Mars (no, really).

 

► Paul Manafort has resigned as campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s Presidential bid, just two days after Trump made significant leadership changes at the top of his organization that appeared to leave Manafort on the bench. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” Manafort’s departure confirms the obvious:

Campaigns never, ever like to admit they are making a change as a result of problems within their operation. It shows weakness, they theorize, and weakness is bad when you are trying to get someone elected president of the United States.

Which brings me to this week and the insistence by everyone affiliated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that the addition of Breitbart News boss Stephen Bannon and the elevation of pollster KellyAnne Conway to the two top jobs within the organization was DEFINITELY not a shake-up.

Conway said Wednesday that calling it a shake-up was a misnomer. Rather, she said, this was an effort to “expand the senior team that allows us to meet the needs,” adding: “I think Paul Manafort as chairman and Rick Gates as deputy have done a phenomenal job building our campaign over last five or six months to put it in a competitive place going into the fall. So I look forward to continuing to work with both of them.”

Or not.

On the plus side, perhaps we have seen the last of Trump legal counsel Michael Cohen making a fool of himself answering questions on TV.

 

► Meanwhile, Trump expressed something similar to actual remorse in comments Thursday in Charlotte. Politico ponders the question of whether or not this signals an actual shift for Trump, or just an out-of-character blip on the radar:

The Republican nominee on Thursday night delivered one of his most surprising speeches yet, expressing “regret” if his past inflammatory rhetoric had caused personal pain. It was a stunning statement coming from a candidate who has said “to apologize for me is very difficult” and that his last sorry was “too many years ago to remember.”…

…But this isn’t the first time Trump has been reeled in only to return to his explosive ways. Following the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the elevation of Manafort in June, Trump delivered a scripted and targeted speech on the stakes of the election and the importance of defeating Clinton…

…The pivot didn’t stick, however, as Trump made a series of inflammatory statements after the convention that sent his poll numbers into free fall.

If you’re holding your breath…you should probably stop.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

TV interview show to focus on election topics and candidates

Denver television fixture Aaron Harber will again produce an extensive series of TV interview shows, called Your Decision 2016, focusing on Colorado election races, ballot initiatives, and related issues beginning no later than Sept. 25 and ending Nov. 6.

Harber will soon begin solidifying topics for 14-to-18 half-hour shows. He aims to cover not only the major races and state-wide ballot initiatives but also key down-ballot state legislative races, such as state senate contests that could determine whether Democrats take control of Colorado government.

Harber plans shows on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and the Aurora Congressional race (U.S. House District 6) between U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger State Sen. Morgan Carroll.

“The majority of voters really start paying attention after Labor Day, so our focus is to try to make people aware of this over the course of the next four or five weeks and then start the programming,” said Harber. “Our goal is not just to provide the programming as a public service. Our goal is to reach thousands of voters, so they have a place to go for fact-based and mutually respectful and civil discussion, which seems to be in short order in the political world today.”

At least two shows will be offered each week. They will air on KCDO-TV Channel 3, Saturdays at 9 to 9:30 p.m. for one show and Saturdays 9:30 to 10 p.m. for another show. (The two shows will be air again on KCDO from 11 a.m Sundays to 12 a.m. and later on Sundays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) The two programs will also be broadcast on COMCAST Entertainment Television Mondays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (with repeat shows during the week on COMCAST and on ION Television), and the two shows will also be downloadable on COMCAST XFINITY ON DEMAND service).

The different venues offer “voters lots of chances to see the programs,” says Harber.

“With these six prime-time spots, we really want to take advantage of the opportunity to be on the air when a lot of people are watching television,” said Harber.

Harber’s show joins other Denver TV candidate-interview shows that have made a demonstrable impact on Colorado politics in recent years: 9News’ Balance of Power and 7News’ Politics Unplugged. Unfortunately, Fox 31 Denver dropped its interview program when longtime political reporter Eli Stokols left the station for a job at Politico.

There’s also the Get More Smarter Show, hosted by progressives Jason Bane and Alan Franklin, and Devil’s Advocate, “moderated” by Jon Caldara of the right-leaning Independence Institute. (Caldara’s show broke news last month when U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn backtracked on his previous pledge to ban all abortion, even for rape.)

In 2014, Harber’s election shows were rolled out in partnership with The Denver Post. Harber has a regular public-affairs TV program as well as the focused election programming.

The Get More Smarter Show: August 19, 2016

This week on Get More Smarter: your hosts take a brief break from the usual commentary to bring you an extended interview with Congressman Ed Perlmutter! Sit back and relax as Rep. Perlmutter talks space exploration, life in Congress, politics in Jefferson County, a variety of issues he’s working on like marijuana and student debt–and this year’s historic presidential election.

If you’ve missed any episodes of the Get More Smarter Show, catch up here. And thanks again for watching.