Monday Open Thread

"The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face."

–William Makepeace Thackeray

An Assessor, a Sugar Daddy, and “Infilling” Open Space in El Paso County

UPDATE: KRDO has picked up this story, and citizens are calling for Lowderman to resign. There is an "appearance of impropriety", according to current El Paso Treasurer Bob Balink.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Something is rotten in El Paso County.

 It’s not the persistent dank from the recent flooding.  It’s not the shower mold from Sheriff Maketa’s selfies.  There is, however, quite a stench wafting from the recent campaign finance violation of the El Paso County Tax Assessor, Mark Lowderman. Lowderman sent out 20,000 campaign mailers on the taxpayer’s dime.  Ostensibly informing seniors about a tax credit, the mailers described Mr. Lowderman in glowing terms, coincidentally, the same terms as his campaign literature.  A complaint was filed, Lowderman was fined and penalized $14,580, yet is running unopposed for the County Treasurer’s office, and  will almost certainly be the next El Paso County Treasurer. Matt Lowderman, Candidate for El Paso County Treasurer

The El Paso County Commissioners appear to be no more concerned about Lowderman's ethical lapse than they were about Sheriff Maketa's hijinks.  The Commissioners "circled the wagons" to protect Maketa for years, according to an insider source. The County Comissioners also had to have known about Lowderman's ethical lapses – yet there is no record of any censure of the Assessor. The Board of Commissioners is reputed to be marshalllng resources to overturn the Administrative Judge's ruling on Lowderman's finance complaint. El Paso is apparently the swamp where ethics go to die. "At every turn, it's dirty," said an informed source.

That would explain the smell. Wafting from the swamp is the funk of the aggregate $17,500 campaign donations Lowderman received from David Jenkins, Chairman of Nor'wood Development Corporation, the largest property owner and developer in El Paso County, within 10 days of Jenkins buying the biggest parcel of property in the County – the legendary Bannings / Lewis Ranch. Donations to Lowderman's campaign for Treasurer were dated May 30 – June 2, 2014. The Banning- Lewis property sale was announced by Nor'wood on June 10, 2014.

Banning-Lewis Ranch AreaThe 30,000 acre Banning-Lewis Ranch is larger than Manhattan Island.   Property developers, open space advocates and environmentalists,  are all very interested in the property.  Oil and gas developers tried a few test drills, but gave up because of poor results. The last family owners of the land, Mrs. Banning and Mr. Lewis, were careful conservationists of the land. The 2008 agreement and master plan stipulated that 12,000 acres of pristine open space in the land would be preserved. However, developers have been drooling for decades about the "infill" profitabilities (infill  means filling in open space with housing,  and malls) of a new city on eastern boundary of Colorado Springs. It is not at all certain how much open space will be left in the final development of the Banning / Lewis ranch.

Mr. Jenkins just donated $17,500 to the guy whose job it is to value property in El Paso County. Obviously, the lower the assessed value, the lower the taxes to be paid, and the higher profit for development as the parcels are "infilled".  Millions of dollars are in play.

David Jenkins has not been a big political sugar daddy – except for Mark Lowderman. Over the last 10 years, he has contributed about $42,000 to candidates and committees in the Springs area. His $17,500 donations to Lowderman are approximately 40% of that total. So it is certainly intriguing that Jenkins has suddenly made such large donations to a tax assessor, running for County Treasurer, a man known to be ethically challenged, within 10 days of finalizing a potentially incredibly profitable land deal. 

It’s just not passing the smell test.

 

 

Graphics from the Lowderman campaign website, and the City of Colorado Springs.

Craig Silverman talks about his new talk-radio show

Craig Silverman returned to Denver’s radio waves a couple weeks ago, as you may know if you saw my recent blog post criticizing him for failing to challenge senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s assertion that Sen. Mark Udall is simply “trying to distract voters” by attacking Gardner for his extreme anti-choice record, which isn’t “top of mind for people.”

I’m glad to see Silverman back on the air. He can be an entertaining and/or gutsy interviewer, whose questions have had an impact on Colorado beyond what most people realize. Plus, I appreciate almost any local voice, as we lose more and more of them to the corporate media monolith.

Silverman’s show airs on KNUS 710-AM Saturdays, from 9 to noon. He’s the latest talk-radio host to be resurrected by KNUS, which is featuring a local lineup that includes Peter Boyles, Dan Caplis, Steve Kelley, Bill Rogan, Jimmy Sengenberger, Matt Dunn, Krista Kafer, and others.

Silverman answers a few of my questions below about his new show.

Jason: Tell me what the show will focus on.

Silverman: The Craig Silverman Show will focus on current events and entertaining, thought provoking topics. We will look at the week that was, enjoy the weekend, and look forward to the week ahead. I’ll have a regular feature named CRAIG’S LAWYERS’ LOUNGE in which we create a forum for prominent attorneys to relax and tell us their war stories. My first guest was Johnny Carson’s former attorney, Henry Bushkin, who told us about the best lawyering job he ever did for Johnny, and how Johnny packed heat.

For a feature named Call of the Week, I had on famous progressive and regular talk show caller, Frank, the leftie lawyer, whose real name I know. Frank had called Dan Caplis to say how little courage he thinks Governor Hickenlooper possesses, and it bothers him such that he has decided to vote for Bob Beauprez. Wow, that was news! Bob Beauprez may really win. So I had Frank on to accept his award toward the end of the show and he was funny and grateful and it was a nice way to end a terrific debut show. Here is a link to the last hour of my show with Bushkin and Frank. Hour one is here and this is hour two.

Jason: Will you welcome progressive callers?

Silverman: Absolutely. You won’t have to say “ditto” or “you are a great American” to get on our shows. I welcome all callers and, as a lawyer, I appreciate a good argument. I like to banter. Besides, unlike some famous talk show hosts, I don’t know everything. I still have a lot to learn. My point of view is rarely too rigid to accommodate new information and good arguments.

Jason: What do you say to progressives who say there’s no significant difference, on the political spectrum, between you and Dan Caplis?

Silverman: I would say those people must get a mental health check-up. Dan and I have some areas of agreement. Neither one of us wanted Ward Churchill to continue as a Professor at CU. Dan never thought that Barack Obama would be a good President and it turns out he was correct. But I was right about Mel Gibson. Dan is pro-life and I favor a woman’s right to choose (1st trimester please). I support gay marriage. Dan doesn’t. Dan favors cannabis prohibition and I believe the war on marijuana was hypocritical and unsuccessful. I support the separation of church and state, and the separation of state and church. Live and let live. But don’t hurt people.

Jason: You mentioned that you’ll be adding some unusual segments each week, announcing a guest of the week and question of the week from KNUS shows. Are you going to listen to all KNUS shows of Boyles, Caplis, Kelley, to get these?

Silverman: My segments are creative and fun and ideally suited for the weekend. I will announce the weekly winner for Best Guest, Call of the Week, Best TV Bite of the Week, and Best Question. The winner is highly subjective and based strictly on the portions of talk radio and television that come to my attention. People can let me know their nominations and give me links to consider on my Facebook page or twitter @CraigsColorado. I listen to KNUS more than any other media right now because I find the topics interesting and appreciate the quality of its national and local hosts.

Jason: I know you’re happy to be back on the air. But can you give me a sense of just how important and gratifying it is for you to have a KNUS show? What’s driving you to do this? It can’t be the money or the audience on KNUS Saturday mornings?

Silverman: KNUS is the best place to be right now. They are spending more money than the competition, and it shows. Advertising and ratings are strong and growing. The management, staff, and the production teams are top notch and have great attitudes.

If people haven’t checked out 710 KNUS in a while, they should, especially for my show. Peter Boyles has the station cooking with gas and he is not a Christian and he is not a Republican. Neither am I.

As for what drives me, I’m getting paid a fair amount to do something I enjoy, and few things concentrate the mind like live broadcasting. Its stimulating to ponder the great issues of the day. Many of my old advertisers have signed up to sponsor my new show so don’t think this is a non-profit. The audience for 710 KNUS is large and I hope to make it larger. What else do you want to listen to at 9:00 on a Saturday morning? The Mutual Fund Show? An infomercial about how green tea cures cancer? A replay of NPR’s seven a.m. hour. An older than dirt Car Talk segment? Did you know those car guys retired in 2012 and the show is all repeats?

Jason: Please explain briefly how you got your start in radio, when you joined Caplis, when that ended, and anything else about your media career.

Silverman: I have been part of Colorado media for decades now. I worked for the Denver DA’s Office from 1980 to 1996 where I was a Chief Deputy District Attorney. I handled many big cases that were covered by the media and I was accordingly asked to do commentary on other cases. I was the first Colorado attorney to be a guest commentator on Court TV in their studios in New York and I commented frequently for the LA Times and numerous other media outlets about the botched prosecution of OJ Simpson. It was during that trial and while I was Chief Deputy DA that I would leave my government job at 5:00 and rush over to Channel 9 to analyze the OJ case with Ed Sardella, Adelle Arawakawa, and Scott Robinson. Then, I would run over to the radio studio of The Dan Caplis Show to add further commentary on that incredible OJ case. In 1996, I ran as an unaffiliated/independent candidate for Denver District Attorney against incumbent Democrat Bill Ritter. I lost but it was a hell of a campaign that received extensive coverage from the local media and newspapers. The Rocky Mountain News endorsed me. The Denver Post did not like me, especially because I had successfully prosecuted a death penalty case (People v. Frank Rodriguez).

My campaign theme was that Politics and Prosecution are a Poor Mix but I lost and I was pressed into private practice. I quickly partnered with my good friend and former Denver DA’s office colleague David Olivas and we have had the law firm of Silverman & Olivas, P.C. for almost 20 years now.

I lost the election in November of 1996 and in December of 1996, the tragic murder of JonBenet Ramsey happened and I was called by members of the media to comment on the case. Peter Boyles had me on regularly. I was on ABC’s Nightline which led to the people at Rivera Live seeing me and liking me and then having me on that hugely successfully CNBC show many dozens of times. I was hired in 1997 to be the legal analyst for KGMH Channel 7 and I did that for ten years until the radio show interfered.

Since Jon Benet, there have been other fascinating Colorado situations including Oklahoma City Bombing Trial, Columbine, and the Kobe Bryant case. I have appeared hundreds of times on various national television shows, and in local and national newspapers, discussing these and other legal matters.

During the Kobe Bryant case, I was up in Eagle covering the situation for Channel 7 and also as a paid legal analyst for 850 KOA. Alex Stone and I were roommates up there and Dan Caplis was hosting a Saturday morning show on KOA. I was a regular guest again with Dan and he started doing some fill in work on KOA’s evening talk shows and then, Ken Saso passed away, and Dan Caplis was the evening talk show host in his absence. I was a regular guest and Kris Olinger who was a great program director liked Caplis and Silverman and came up with the idea for us to do an afternoon drive time show on 630 KHOW. We did the show for 8 years from the summer of 2004 to the summer of 2012 and we won every available award at one point or another for our broadcast excellence. We broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention and we each penned daily columns for the late great Rocky Mountain News during that DNC week.

Some people like a certain Jason Salzman thought I should be more liberal to counteract Dan’s conservatism but that was never what we were meant to be. Besides, I could not play the part of a complete progressive because I am not. I am liberal compared to Dan Caplis but conservative compared to Jason Salzman. I defy easy categorization.

What I am is a trial lawyer who likes to put on a winning show. That is what I’ll try to do every Saturday. It will be like nothing like Colorado talk radio listeners have ever heard before and I hope everybody will enjoy it.

Making a Joke of the IRS “Scandal”

WCSLogo

As reported by the UK Daily Mail's U.S. political editor David Martsoko from the Western Conservative Summit this weekend in Denver–apparently, Centennial Institute director and WCS organizer John Andrews has found a slick way around his group's pesky 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity status, which ordinarily would not allow the WCS to talk about political candidates and the upcoming 2014 elections:

'Sirloin' and 'tofu' have become code words for 'Republican' and 'Democrat' in Colorado, and a former right-wing state legislator assigned liberals the role of pressed bean curd during a conservative convention in Denver.

John Andrews, president of the Colorado state Senate until 2005 and now Director of the Centennial Institute – an affiliate of Colorado Christian College – told a crowd estimated at 3,000 that speakers at the three-day session would not be permitted to talk about candidates, parties or elections…

'You have probably noticed that as we brought out Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner, that something was missing,' he said. 'Something was not said about them or by them about how they're spending 2014.'

'I can give you the reason why in two words: Lois Lerner.'

'…So let's just make this agreement … If you form a mental association between "Republican" and "sirloin," and between "Democrat" and "tofu," and I was to say to you that every time I whiff Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner it makes me wanna eat more sirloin and less tofu, you would know what I was talking about, right?' [Pols emphasis]

Note how Andrews invoked Lois Lerner, the former IRS official vilified by the right as part of the scandal over conservative-leaning groups "singled out" for scrutiny of their tax-exempt status applications. The truth of that story is not nearly so simple, or in the end controversial–many left-leaning organizations faced the same level of scrutiny as conservative ones. Nonetheless, it's become a part of the vast body of anti-Obama mythology accepted on faith by the conservative base today.

But never mind all that, because John Andrews just made a joke of the whole thing! It's tough to imagine a better way to justify IRS scrutiny than to start your 501(c)(3) "nonprofit" convention by explaining the event's partisan political code language. Might the IRS decide that's too ridiculous a pretense to ignore? Would Andrews still claim he's being persecuted if the IRS asks for a little clarification?

Hopefully. And probably.

Everybody And Their Mother Comes Out Against Local Control

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Mark Jaffe reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper's press conference yesterday kicking off the opposition campaign against two local control ballot measures championed by Rep. Jared Polis left no confusion about where the governor stands–as if there ever was any.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday said two ballot measures aimed at giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling would damage the state's economy and must be defeated…

"It is clear these initiatives will kill jobs and damage our state's economy," Hickenlooper said. "These measures risk thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and millions of dollars in tax revenue."

…Hickenlooper said Initiative 88 is the opposite of local control, for it sets a "arbitrary limit" across the state with no room to adjust it locally.

As for Initiative 89, Hickenlooper questioned whether local governments would have "the sophistication" to enforce it.

Via Gannett's Raju Chebium, Rep. Polis responds:

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis said one measure he wants to include on the state's November ballot would give local governments the power to approve or reject fracking operations without fear of reprisal from the oil and gas industry. Another measure would allow residents to decide how far fracking wells should be from their homes and businesses.

Fracking may be appropriate far from residential neighborhoods and in rural and industrial areas, but communities must have the ultimate say over whether the wells can sprout up nearby, he said.

"It's perfectly reasonable for residents to feel that it shouldn't be in residential neighborhoods. That should be up to them if they want it," Polis said. "If Loveland residents want fracking, they should be able to have it. If Fort Collins residents don't, they shouldn't be sued." [Pols emphasis]

Our understanding is that despite the swift closing of ranks against these initiatives on the part of Democratic insiders, Rep. Polis remains fully committed to passing them. The fact is, whatever fear has been put into establishment Democrats about consequences from running these initiatives, Polis can defensibly argue he is simply representing his district–where three cities have already passed moratoria, and in the case of Lafayette an outright ban, on hydraulic fracturing. That's a point getting lost as Democrats across the state–Mark Udall, Andrew Romanoff, Ed Perlmutter, and many others–fall in line behind Hickenlooper in opposition to these ballot measures, and the chattering class groupthink ramps up against them.

One of the most popular arguments against these initiatives aimed at Democrats is the assumption "certainty" that they will hurt Democratic electoral prospects this November, either directly or indirectly from the resources expended in the fight. We continue to see a plausible scenario wherein Democrats benefit from these initiatives by stoking turnout, even as individual Democratic candidates give themselves cover by opposing them. Today, as Democrats disappoint conservationists with their stand against local control, they still know Democrats are closer to their position than Republicans will ever be. While these initiatives might be setting up 2015 for a divisive blue-on-blue fight over the issue, that doesn't mean the damage will be felt at the polls this year.

And it wouldn't be the first time the voters proved bolder than the leaders.

Political TV talk show airs five days a week through Election Day in Denver

For those of you who used to complain about the shrinking length of TV sound bites, but now you’re grateful for any political blip on TV at all, take this: A local TV public-affairs show that airs five days a week.

That’s what Aaron Harber, who’s hosted public affairs programs here for years, in a unique partnership with The Denver Post, is bringing you this election season. That’s about 100 shows, some of which may be candidate debates like Harber has moderated in past elections.

The “Aaron Harber Show: Colorado Election 2014″ launched about three weeks ago, and the string of guests continues to impress: Ryan Call, Scott Gessler, Ken Buck, Diane Carman, Dick Lamm, Tom Tancredo, Steve Welchert, John Andrews, Mike Littwin, among others. (Okay, maybe they’re all not so impressive, but still.)

You can catch former State House Speaker (and impressive to boot) Mark Ferrandino Monday. The show is available in the morning (and first) on The Post website, and then broadcast on Denver commercial TV station KCDO-TV Channel 3 at 6:30 p.m. (3 p.m. next week) through Election Day. Below, see how else it’s being distributed.

Harbor is particularly excited about the partnership with The Post, which he hopes will push the show out to a much wider audience than you’d expect for a local TV public affairs program, like others produced locally.

The show “is the nation’s first daily political news show on a commercial over-the-air broadcast television station in conjunction with a major newspaper,” according to the show’s promotional materials, and, as such, “could be a model for the country to promote civil and mutually-respectful debate.”

“Can you have a partnership with a television station and a newspaper, where the newspaper gets the program first?” asks Harber. “In this case The Denver Post gets it in the morning and the television station gets it at 6:30 p.m. (3 p.m. next week). Can we make this work? The newspaper loves having the content first, and will that actually help viewing when the television broadcasts the show later? We think it can.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Aaron and provide our readers and viewers with additional information for evaluating candidates and issues this election cycle,” Post Editor Greg Moore said in a Post article about the series. “We are impressed with Aaron’s ability to get political players to come to the table and discuss their views and we look forward to what we can create together.”

“Viewers get to see the guests in a more in-depth manner than they do on an average TV news program, where the average sound bite is 9 seconds,” Harber told me. “We’re trying to present people with a fact-based program that allows them to see various candidates and representatives of ballot initiatives.”

Harber says he’s gotten positive feedback on the show so far, but he’s tweaking it as it goes along, He’s had suggestions for improvement, like “maybe a new host,” he joked.

One possible show in the future, or a segment of future shows, might involve assembling a panel to critique political ads, kind of like the fact-checks on local TV stations but done in a discussion format, said Harber.

Here’s a summary, provided by Harber, of where you can catch the program:

The program will be highlighted in the morning newspaper every weekday and broadcast first on The Denver Post’s Website and made available 24/7 thereafter on DenverPost.com through the General Election.

After each daily premiere on The Denver Post, the show will be broadcast over-the-air as well as on cable and satellite from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm by KCDO-TV Channel 3 (K3 Colorado).

COMCAST Entertainment Television has agreed to carry the entire series statewide (with two broadcasts daily after the KCDO-TV Channel 3 broadcast).

To ensure even broader availability to voters, ION Television has agreed to carry the best shows of the series.

K3 will preempt the regular Sunday morning program 11:00 am time-slot for “The Aaron Harber Show” (right after most of the national political news shows) and re-broadcast the “best” program from the previous week to give the series even more exposure.

COMCAST also will make the entire series available 24/7 at no charge via its XFINITY [Video] on Demand service so all Colorado COMCAST customers can view the programs in HD at their convenience.

In conjunction with the Colorado Press Association, full-length programs and short segments also will be available to the 44 Colorado print and electronic participants in the Publishers Advantage Initiative (representing an additional 625,000 readers and viewers).

In conjunction with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, full-length programs and short segments also will be available to the every radio and television station in Colorado at no charge for use on their Websites (potentially representing an additional 1,725,000 viewers and readers).

Democrats Call Out Beauprez’s “47% Moment”

A press release from Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio this morning:

"Clearly Congressman Beauprez thinks he's better than Colorado's seniors, veterans, firefighters, students and hard-working families in our great state," Palacio said. "Instead of apologizing for his ridiculous and derisive comments, Congressman Beauprez stood by his remarks claiming that half of the population are freeloaders who are "perfectly happy" that someone else is paying the bill," said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

There are lots of politically self-destructive on-record moments for Bob Beauprez awaiting publicity, and although we've discussed a few of them in this space, the majority of that material has not been seen by Colorado voters. Democrats are right to zero in on Beauprez's "47% speech" early, given the similarity of his remarks to those made by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign. For Romney, this was a gaffe from which his campaign arguably never recovered, and in hindsight was probably his fatal mistake. It's just too easy, as Colorado Democrats show in this video, to alienate such politicians from ordinary voters by explaining how, whether they realize it or not, they are either part of that 47% or know someone who is.

Once that sinks in, it's easy to make the case that Beauprez–like Romney–doesn't have their best interests at heart.

Friday Open Thread

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."

–John Maynard Keynes

Steve King Running Out of Timecards to Punch

State Sen. Steve King (R), man of many time cards.

State Sen. Steve King (R), man of many time cards.

Republican State Sen. Steve King officially withdrew from the race for Mesa County Sheriff on Tuesday, a decision that had become largely unavoidable and may end up being just the beginning of a larger investigation. As the Denver Post reports, King has yet to explain how he was able to juggle three different government jobs at the same time:

The investigation now includes timecards for his work as acting coordinator of campus security and training at Colorado Mesa University from July 2012 to December 2013.

Timecards show King worked as many as 194 hours a month at the university while also working as a Republican state senator and working part-time at the sheriff's office. He had been an investigator for the sheriff's office before he was elected to political office as a representative for District 54 in 2006 and then as a senator for District 7 in 2010.

While those of you outside of the Grand Junction area may not be particularly interested in who becomes the next Mesa County Sheriff, King's sloppy shenanigans may yet ensnare more public officials. For years officials at Colorado Mesa University (formerly Mesa State University) have been suspected of providing a safe landing spot — or a place to cool their heels until the next campaign — for Republicans such John Marshall, Bob Beauprez's campaign manager in 2006, as well as various family members and friends of former State Sen. Josh Penry.

It's telling that the editorial board of the Grand Junction Sentinel didn't mince words in saying good riddance to King:

That’s not even taking into account an ongoing criminal investigation by a special prosecutor. The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office is looking at whether King committed any crimes while he was employed by three different publicly funded entities: the state Legislature, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Mesa University. The Sentinel’s examination of King’s timecards and claims for reimbursement paints a troubling picture, to say the least…

…With the criminal investigation hanging over his head, it’s doubtful King will ever hold another government job. But that’s the least of his worries. We’re just glad he’s dropped his bid to be our next sheriff.

We've no doubt that King's time-card shuffle was making a lot of Republicans nervous as it drew more attention to the practice of hiring so many "at-will" positions at Colorado Mesa University. King's withdrawal from the sheriff's race may end this particular line of questioning, but his candidacy in general may have opened a few doors that were intended to remain closed.

Democrats Outraising Republicans 5-1 in Key House Races

Earlier this week we took a look at the bizarre string of late-entry and replacement candidates that Republicans have fielded in a number of key State House races. In order to gain control of the State House, Republicans need to win at least 5 seats this fall — without losing any incumbent legislators — which is a mountain that may be too tall for the GOP to climb in 2014.

As a Colorado Pols analysis of fundraising results in key House districts shows, Democrats are raising significantly more money in competitive House districts compared to their Republican counterparts. We took a look at 12 of the top House districts (you can argue that your list of top races would look a little different, but you get the point), and through July 1, 2014, Democrats had raised more than $500,000, while Republican candidates combined for just a tad more than $100,000.

While so-called "soft money" from third party groups, PACs, and other special interests will certainly get involved in many of these House races, the disparity in fundraising is quite stunning. Take a look at the chart below — there is not a single Republican candidate who has raised even close to the totals compiled by their Democratic counterparts.

GOP-House-Fundraising3-2

Gardner says Udall “trying to distract voters” with issues that aren’t “top of mind”

(Do men care about it? No? Okay then. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

On a Denver radio show over the weekend, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner accused his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Udall, of “trying to distract voters” by spotlighting Gardner's stances on abortion and contraception, which "aren't top of mind for people."

I would have enjoyed hearing Gardner say that to room full of women, but, alas, Gardner's words fell on talk radio, which skews male and old. And Craig Silverman, who hosted the KNUS 710-AM show on which Gardner made the comments, didn't offer any words of rebuttal, from himself or any critic, male or female.

A response from a Planned Parenthood representative–or anyone–from Texas, where new anti-choice laws will reduce the number of abortion clinics to eight statewide by Sept. 1, might make a particularly good radio debate on this topic.

As I reported today on RH Reality Check about Gardner's comment that Udall is “trying to distract the voters with issues that, quite frankly, aren’t top of mind for people:”

Gardner’s statement reflects comments he made during his first congressional campaign in 2010, when he defeated Betsy Markey, a pro-choice Democrat trying to hold her seat in a Republican-leaning congressional district.

In response to Markey’s attacks on his hardline anti-abortion positions, including his support of Colorado’s failed “personhood” amendment in 2008, Gardner said at the time, “Right now the only person talking about social issues in this campaign is Betsy Markey.” He promised reporters not to pursue an anti-abortion agenda if elected to Congress.

After winning the election, however, Gardner co-sponsored bills to redefine rape, defund Planned Parenthood, and to define a “person” in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to include all human development, beginning at the fertilized egg (zygote) stage.

Video: Hickenlooper Plays The Banjo at Red Rocks

hickbanjo

From last night's concert of Old Crow Medicine Show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Did you know Gov. John Hickenlooper could play the banjo? Because we didn't.

Love him or not, you've got to admit that's pretty cool.

Senate Q-Poll: Gardner 44%, Udall 42%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Today's poll from Quinnipiac University of the Colorado U.S. Senate race, like the Q-poll released released yesterday showing Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez in a statistical dead heat, puts Democrats on notice that a long, hard election season most likely awaits:

The closely-watched U.S. Senate race is tied with 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger, and 42 percent for Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 10 percent are undecided. 

This compares to the results of an April 24 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University showing Sen. Udall at 45 percent to 44 percent for Rep. Gardner…

Colorado voters give Udall a negative 42 – 46 percent job approval rating, his lowest net approval ever and down from a 42 – 42 percent split in April. Voters say 49 – 40 percent that Udall does not deserve to be reelected, tying his lowest score on that measure…

"This race shifts back and forth a point or two and remains too close to call. There's a whole lot at stake as Sen. Mark Udall runs neck and neck with U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the GOP challenger, in a marquee race that could tip the balance of the Senate," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

While not the direction Democrats want to see the polls moving in, it should be noted that the shift in this poll from Quinnipiac's April survey is considerably smaller than the putative swing Beauprez has enjoyed in the gubernatorial race. Both races are much too close to call, but Udall's race has remained locked in a tighter range. Also, although we consider Quinnipiac as reliable a pollster as the next, this might be a good time to remember that Quinnipiac consistently showed Mitt Romney ahead of Barack Obama in Colorado in 2012. Obama carried the state by five points. Like Beauprez, there is a large body of negative material on Gardner that voters have not been exposed to yet, whereas Udall has been getting pummeled over a course of years as an incumbent Senator. The poll shows that Udall has a solid advantage over Gardner on reproductive choice and other "issues important to women," which suggests that the one issue Gardner has taken fire on, abortion, has hurt him. Now it's time for Democrats to segue into the other stuff in the oppo book.

The biggest winners in this poll? Reporters who'd prefer to call a horse race instead of unpacking the issues. It's shallower and easier, and it looks like that's going to be the narrative for the time being.