It’s The One Thing Cory Gardner Does Well


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

AP's Nick Riccardi:

Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner's campaign is reporting it raised $1.4 million during the first three months of the year, almost all of it in March, following his surprise announcement he would challenge Democratic Sen Mark Udall.

Gardner raised $1.24 million in March and has $2.1 million in cash available. Udall raised more than $2 million during the first quarter of the year and has $5.9 million available. But the senator was raising funds for the full three months. Udall campaign spokesman Chris Harris said Wednesday that the campaign raised the majority of its total, $1.4 million, in March.

It makes sense that Sen. Mark Udall would have raised the bulk of his $2 million in March, after Cory Gardner's entry into the race moved Colorado up on everybody's lists of priorities. Gardner's $1.2 million in a month of fundraising keeps pace with Udall from his moment of entry, and that's why he was recruited for this race. Gardner's long train of issue baggage doesn't distinguish him from the other Republicans he pushed aside to get in this race, but his ability to raise all the money he'll need certainly does.

The other part of the Gardner fundraising dynamo story, who's giving, won't be available until his quarterly report is published in detail. But we suspect that will also be noteworthy.

GOP Caucus Crackup? Anti-Priola “Coup Attempt” Fails

UPDATE: Here's a clip of Rep. Kevin Priola from yesterday's debate over Rep. Jim Wilson's amendment to House Bill 14-1292. The tension then brewing over Priola's opposition to this mostly GOP-supported amendment is clear in his voice:


GOP Reps. Kevin Priola and Chris Holbert.

GOP Reps. Kevin Priola and Chris Holbert.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports this afternoon:

House Republicans met for 30 minutes Thursday morning after Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, called a meeting with the goal of replacing Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, as the caucus whip.

Priola had alienated many of his fellow GOP colleagues a day earlier when he declined to support an amendment to the Student Success Act sponsored by Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, that most Republicans supported.

Priola hadn’t paid Wilson, one of the more popular members in the caucus, the courtesy of informing him ahead of time that he wouldn’t be supporting his amendment related to a transparency website to show how school districts spend public money.

The Denver Post's Anthony Cotton has a little more reaction from Republicans:

According to the Republicans, part of Priola’s job as Whip is to determine where the membership stands on the issues and help align support within the party–on Wednesday, party members say, Priola not only failed to do that, he argued on the floor in favor of Hamner’s amendment over Wilson’s.

When Hamner’s amendment was passed in a close vote, it led to Thursday’s move by Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, to have Priola removed.

“We were shocked and disappointed that happened,” Holbert said. “He should have let us know his position and we could have made adjustments.”

In the end, despite the push from Rep. Chris Holbert to remove Rep. Kevin Priola from his Minority Whip position on the spot today, minority caucus chair Rep. Kathleen Conti scuttled the move by ruling the motion out of order–as Priola hadn't resigned, the position technically wasn't "vacant." This would clearly indicate that Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso  was not on board. Originally, as Stokols reports, an angry GOP caucus was prepared to oust Priola, as indicated by an initial vote against adjourning the meeting of the caucus. After Conti ruled the whole business out of order, a second vote to adjourn passed.

So what really happened today? For the best clue available, we turn to Rep. Frank McNulty:

The attempted coup, whatever vote precipitated Thursday’s meeting, has been a long time coming, according to several House Republicans who describe a widening gap between the caucus’s moderate and conservative wings.

“This isn’t about the amendment yesterday,” said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch. “This is about personalities.”

By all accounts, this has been a very frustrating legislative session for the conservative wing of the GOP House caucus. After the success of last year's recall elections against two sitting Senators and the resignation of a third, conservatives expected to vigorously oppose Democrats at every step, setting the stage for a clear election season distinction. Instead, as we've recounted in this space, the base GOP outrage they hoped to sustain into this year has fizzled, and the GOP caucus took heavy criticism for dead-end ideological flights of fancy like the abortion ban bill. This incident over a relatively obscure Democratic amendment supported by Priola–which apparently didn't even pass on clean party lines, with several Democrats voting against along with most of the GOP–appears to ripped the scab off of a much larger intra-caucus disagreement.

Judging from the unsatisfying end of today's blowup, we've probably not heard the last of it either.

Ryan Budget Barely Passes; Colo. GOP Delegation All Vote Yes

UPDATE: Mike Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff responds:

The Ryan budget does not reflect the values most Americans share. It would force middle-class families to pay more in taxes, students to pay more for college, and seniors to pay more for health care. The House I led balanced the budget every year. But we didn’t do so on the back of the middle class. Some estimates suggest the Ryan plan would cost the country as many as three million jobs. Among the other casualties: 170,000 at-risk children, who would lose access to Head Start.

The winners? Those in the highest income bracket, pharmaceutical manufacturers and corporations that offshore their employees.

If you’re serious about growing the economy, you don’t eliminate job training. You eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

If you’re serious about balancing the budget, you allow Medicare to negotiate deeper discounts in prescription-drug prices – instead of sticking seniors with higher bills.

If you’re serious about strengthening the middle class, you vote against the Ryan budget. 


Gardner Ryan Budget

Cory Gardner loves him some Paul Ryan

As the National Journal reports, the latest "Ryan Budget" has passed the House (barely). All of Colorado's Republican Members of Congress voted 'YES' on the budget — Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

The House on Thursday narrowly passed Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican budget carrying $5.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years without closing tax loopholes, as Ryan and other GOP leaders averted a potentially embarrassing defeat on the bill because of party defections.

The measure passed 219 to 205, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting no. A swing of just seven Republican votes would have defeated the measure…

…Even some Republicans acknowledge passage of the Ryan budget is more an aspirational declaration of their party's priorities and vision of government spending.

But the vote Thursday showed that it is not necessarily a reflection of all House Republicans' vision. Some conservative defections were anticipated.

Having already flip-flopped on major issues such as Personhood, we're a little surprised to see both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman sticking with Rep. Paul Ryan on a vote that will almost certainly hurt them with General Election voters.

Gardner’s hollow campaign narrative

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Political campaigns love to develop a narrative and connect it to everything they say and do. But sometimes they overdo it, and the campaign narrative suddenly looks cramped.

Thanks to reporting by multiple media outlets, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner's all-consuming Obamacare narrative is already smelling overdone and forced. And it's not just because Obamacare appears to be working.

Take, for example, Gardner's foundational story about deciding to enter the Senate race.

Gardner: I thought about reconsidering running for the U.S. Senate, but it really picked up last year when we received our healthcare cancellation notice.

If that's true, and Gardner has said this numerous times, then Gardner's thoughts about entering the race "really picked up" in August, six months before he told The Denver Post in February that he was launching his Senate campaign against Udall.

So Gardner left his Republican opponents floundering for six months, even though he had publicly announced June 28, three months earlier, that he would not run against Udall in part because he wanted to get out of the way of his opponents who were "making their decisions" about running.

More doubts about Gardner's foundational Obamacare campaign-origin story surfaced when Politico reported that Gardner decided to enter the race after seeing the results of a poll conducted by Republicans in Washington DC.

That was January, about five months after Gardner got his letter outlining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

January was also the time period when Gardner stepped up his attacks on Udall, as if his campaign against Udall was suddenly in motion. Gardner sent a Jan. 9 letter from his congressional office to the Colorado Division of Insurance asking questions about it's interactions with Udall’s office. In mid-January, Gardner asked his own congressional committee to investigate. Gardner's a member of the Commerce committee. And Then the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which, according to Politico, conducted the poll convincing Gardner to run for Senate, sent a Jan. 17 letter to Udall, with more questions.

This timeline, casting serious doubts on Gardner's story that his Obamacare letter pushed him into the race, was constructed with the record produced by journalists covering Gardner, day-to-day, month-to-month. It's a small testament to why political reporting is important and how it creates a picture of a candidate for office for us to contrast with the messaging of his campaign.

The “Great Social Experiment” or “Leadership”?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

"This is going to be one of the great social experiments of this century"
~Governor John Hickenlooper


Yesterday's senate hearing on SB14-177 and SB14-178 drew a standing-room-only crowd; one that ultimately demanded an overflow room for the observers and witnesses.  The attendees were a broad swath of Colorado citizens: mother and child, medical refugees desperate to find a remedy for their child's condition; attorneys, social workers, business owners, political activists, lobbyists, and myself as the sole farmer in the room. It was an afternoon of passionate testimony by medical marijuana activists who see the bill as a subtle, some may say "backroom" attempt,  to recriminalize the use and or possession of cannabis under section 18-18-102 of the Colorado statute.  The vague language of the proposed bill caused confusion even amongst the law enforcement and social workers who provided testimony for both the proponents and the opposition. 

I'm forever in awe of the breadth and depth of the human and social capacity that Colorado possesses.  The testimony by Jeri Shepard, a Greeley attorney, was compelling.  Jeri went point by salient point, deconstructing the myths around legalization, she offered to the members of the Judiciary Committee they read the book, "The New Jim Crow", an exercise she had participated in as a group Lenten exercise.  If one was measuring the prudence of Coloradans ending prohibition in 2012 by Jeri's testimony, you wouldn't describe our efforts as "a great social experiment".  You would call it "leadership".

We heard from a prominent pediatric doctor; then a Ph.D. in microbiology who explained in detail how cannabis interacts with a gestating mother – backed by a pile of studies that debunk, once again, the myths of cannabis use.  Perhaps the most poignant moment of the day was during the testimony of a Colorado Springs mother who sat with her 22-month old daughter and shared how her daughter had been healed with medical marijuana and cannabidiol oil.  The mother, like many others, sat in the hearing room for hours for the opportunity to share their story.  The young girl was restless as her mother spoke.  Senator Johnson interrupted the mother and asked her if he could hold the child while she finished her testimony.  Senator Johnson, a seasoned father of three, held the child – who immediately became calm as the Senator rocked her gently.  There was barely a dry eye in the room.  He's a good man.

I was not only impressed by the quality of the witnesses – but also of each member of the Judiciary Committee.  Senators Steve King and Kevin Lundberg offered thoughtful input and shared mutual concerns about the bills overreach.  And Senator Lucia Guzman – an absolute gem.  She chaired the long and sometime contentious environment with a gentle, calming grace.  A particular shout out to William Bartlett of Colorado's Green Party.  His reasoned and thoughtful comments would resound with anyone, regardless of their political stripe.

There was little consensus amongst the professionals as to whether the bill broadened or narrowed the obligations of mandated reporters and social workers in the state. 


At times, the testimony implied these bills were solutions seeking a problem.

What was crystal clear throughout the debate was the fundamental conflict between the Colorado Constitution as amended via Amendment 64, (an act by 55% of Colorado voters in 2012 to end prohibition) – and federal law, the Controlled Substances Act, that treats marijuana and industrial hemp as Schedule 1 substances.

Under the proposed legislation the mere possession of a single cannabis plant, a guaranteed right under our state constitution, constituted prima facie evidence of 'child endangerment'.  

My concern with both SB14-177 and SB14-178 is their deficiency in rationale.  These bills lack resources to educate mandatory reporters so that families aren't being wrongfully accused or harassed.  They lack the funding for parents to get legal counsel to protect themselves and their family.  They lack a clear pathway for family reunification.  They contain zero dollars for law enforcement education.  They lack zero dollars for mandatory reporter training.

But the most troubling zero in the bill that is being sold to be about prevention child abuse is the word "prevention": a document search of both bills finds the word prevention zero times.

State civil and criminal law already addresses child abuse.  Science tells us that not all substance use equate abuse.  Morality tells us that substance abuse orders are a medical condition, not a criminal action. Compassion tells us helping a parent recover is better for a child than throwing the parent in jail.  Data tells us that children who end up in child protective services has checkered outcomes.

As a fifth-generation agriculturalist from the eastern plains, my core was defined by the stewardship of the land.  It struck me by days-end that what the passage of Amendment 64 is giving Coloradans the opportunity to cultivate and rediscover the gift of stewarding our fellow man.  This isn't a grand experiment.  That experiment began nearly eight decades ago.  That experiment was prohibition: 77 years and $1.5 trillion dollars later this nation has achieved little but gold-plated merit badges representing a failed drug war, incarceration rates the highest in the world and families and communities destroyed.  What Amendment 64 has given us is the opportunity to change that course.  One that focuses on compassion, empathy and equity.  One that understands that, at the core of this debate, is our fundamental failure of our society to address addiction and addictive personalities.

Everyone in the room yesterday was there because of someone they love or because they believe a nurturing environment for a child is everyone's responsibility.  On that we can all agree.  I have no doubt that the bill sponsors, Senators Linda Newell and Senator Andy Kerr have the best of intentions.  But Colorado is in the unique position to not only shift the paradigm of decades of neglect in addressing the core of our drug challenges.

The nation is watching – let's get it right.  This isn't an experiment - most would call it leadership.  Let's scrap these two bills, go back to the drawing board, open the debate to the public – and offer a 21st-century alternative that gets it right

We have nothing to apologize for – let's celebrate our unique opportunity to lead.



Sad Truth About the Vanishing Middle in Congress

As our friends at "The Fix" report:

In the last three decades, the number of members in the middle in the House dropped from 344 (79 percent of the House) in 1982  to four (.9 percent of the House) in 2013.  As the slide suggests, redistricting — the decennial re-drawing of the nation's Congressional lines — plays a major role in that decline. The last two nationwide re-draws have largely been incumbent protection efforts, making Republican districts more Republican and Democratic districts more Democratic. Self-sorting — the growing tendency of people to live around like-minded people — is also a major factor in the disappearance of the ideological middle in the House…

Taken together, there are four — FOUR — members of the ideological middle out of the 535 members of the House and Senate combined. That comes out to approximately .7 percent of the entire Congress. In 1982, by way of comparison, more than 75 percent of Members of Congress were part of the ideological middle. So, in the last 30 years, the middle has lost 74 percent of its membership in Congress.

To underscore this point, check out the graphic below:





More Grandstanding in Garfield County

On Tuesday, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky and biologist Dr. Rob Ramey testified at a House Natural Resource Committee on a number of bills that would amend the Endangered Species Act.

If both those names sound familiar, it’s because it’s not the first time we’ve heard from both of them. Commissioner Jankovsky has been under pressure for paying out-of-state consultants, like American Stewards of Liberty, hundreds of thousands in taxpayers’ dollars for consulting fees to plan and adopt an alternative sage grouse plan—a plan seemingly headed for the trash bucket at BLM and USFWS offices.

One of the consultants that Commissioner Jankovsky hired to draft an alternative Sage Grouse proposal was none other than biologist-for-hire Dr. Rob Ramey. Dr. Ramey has made the point for years that scientific information should be public information.

In his testimony yesterday Dr. Ramey claimed, “when data are not publicly accessible, legitimate scientific inquiry is effectively eliminated as no third party can independently reproduce the results. Such secrecy does not further the goal of species recovery. Such secrecy also puts the evidentiary basis of some resource agency decisions outside the realm of science and in clear violation of the Information Quality Act.”

That’s an interesting take, but one not grounded in reality. In fact, Dr. Ramey consistently finds himself lambasting any science other than his own, which is probably why he’s been routinely hired by industry associations to counter any government findings.

It’s also interesting Dr. Ramey would bring up the idea of information quality.  In 2007, Dr. Ramey said in a Congressional hearing that in order to better make ESA listing decisions the government should “take steps to eliminate financial and other conflicts of interest in Recovery Teams and peer reviews.”  Ramey’s involvement with the American Petroleum Institute and the Western Energy Alliance seems like a clear conflict of interest and a relationship that could lead to a real lack of information quality.

Instead of grandstanding and reciting campaign talking points, our local and national elected officials should be spending their time working with all stakeholders to avoid a listing. Anything but this is a surefire way to an ESA listing. And that’s bad news for Westerners.

Thursday Open Thread

"Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids."

–John Steinbeck

Another Big, Empty “Change of Heart” From New Coffman®

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee:

Democrats assailed Coffman, a military veteran who serves on the House Armed Services committee, for his previous votes in opposition of repealing the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred gays from serving openly in the military. Indeed, Coffman is against same-sex marriage.

“In his time in Washington, Mike Coffman has clearly learned the art of manipulation. While he’s eager to take credit, he fails to back up his talk with action. Despite his claim to support employment non-discrimination legislation, Congressman Coffman is hardly a champion for gay and lesbian rights. Not only does he oppose marriage equality but he voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

Palacio added that it’s “yet another of Coffman’s attempts to wipe away his record of extremism and hide from Colorado’s voters.”



A press release a short while ago from leading LGBT advocacy group One Colorado announces that vulnerable GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is joining Democrats in support of a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), to protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination:

Today, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) announced his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In response to this announcement, Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado – the leading statewide advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families – released the following statement:

“Protecting against discrimination in the workplace isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue – it’s common sense. Congressman Coffman’s announcement today in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act brings his views in alignment with a strong majority of Americans who believe that workers should be judged on their job performance alone, and nothing else. As a non-partisan organization, we welcome Congressman Coffman’s announcement and commend support for equality across the ideological spectrum. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass ENDA now, to extend the same basic workplace protections we’ve already passed here in Colorado to all LGBT Americans.”

Rep. Coffman's record on rights for LGBT citizens, like immigration, abortion, and other issues he has recently fled to the center on, is very clear–and dismal from the point of view of any LGBT rights supporter. In 2011, Coffman joined with Rep. Michele Bachmann and other social-issue Republicans to call for a ban on military facilities being used for gay marriages. Coffman voted against ending the military's reviled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and supported the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Coffman even served as Texas Gov. Rick Perry's state campaign chair while Perry ran widely criticized ads disparaging the fact that "gays can serve openly in the military."

So what gives? For one thing, says Politico, the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign is courting House Republicans in an attempt to line up support for that body possibly taking up ENDA. But the chances of that remain very, very remote according to everyone we've talked to, most likely ending up as a message opportunity about support growing for the legislation–which we expect will continue to grow, even in the probable event that John Boehner's House never takes up ENDA at all this election year.

That Coffman is one of the first Republicans coming out in support of ENDA is no surprise, and it highlights another step in his political evolution. The Colorado Republican has reversed positions on immigration and abortion in recent months as he tries to fend off an challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s competitive sixth district.

“I see this legislation as the workplace equivalent of the Golden Rule — do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” Coffman said in a statement to POLITICO. “In the workplace, in 2014, we should judge employees the way we would want to be judged — based on our qualifications, our contributions and by our character, period.”

For Coffman, much like immigration, ENDA becomes another opportunity for reinvention without consequence–since ENDA is very unlikely to come up for a vote in the House, Coffman can say whatever he wants. Short of demanding House leadership bring the bill up for a vote, Coffman will never have to put his record where his mouth is, all the while reaping the positive press from his untested "change of heart."

Does this mean Democrats should be angry with gay rights activists for giving Coffman an opening to meaninglessly pander? Certainly not–any more than Dems should be with immigration rights supporters about Coffman's pandering to them. If your goal is issue progress, you welcome support wherever you can get it.

But it needs to be tempered by reality–and Coffman's anti-gay record raises more questions than this answers.

Another Big Haul For Romanoff: $600,000 in Q1

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

A press release from Democratic CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff moments ago:

Andrew Romanoff, candidate for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, raised $603,520 in the first quarter of 2014, bringing his total contributions to more than $2.6 million. Romanoff ended the quarter with nearly $2.1 million in cash on hand.

Romanoff recorded his strongest fundraising period to date. FEC reports indicate he has now outpaced every other House challenger in Colorado history.

“Coloradans want to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class,” Romanoff said. “That means creating clean-energy jobs, making college more affordable, ensuring equal pay for equal work – exactly the kind of priorities I’ll pursue in Congress.”

Romanoff does not accept contributions from special-interest groups. His support reflects a broad cross-section of Coloradans:

The campaign has received contributions from 10,043 supporters to date, including 4,020 donors in the first quarter of 2014.
More than 91 percent of the campaign’s first-quarter donors live in Colorado.
More than 84 percent of the campaign’s first-quarter contributions were $100 or less.
The campaign has raised $2,607,982 to date and ended the first quarter with $2,098,619 on hand.

We haven't heard from GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, widely known as a fundraising powerhouse, but Romanoff beat Coffman in the final two quarters last year–a momentum-changing development all by itself that this latest strong performance will only reinforce. It's worth restating how Romanoff's strong fundraising comes despite self-imposed handicaps we ourselves have criticized, and is even more impressive as a result.

We'll update when we hear from Coffman, who won't do himself any favors by coming in second again.

The Tanc Makes The Ballot

UPDATE: 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman:

Assuming Beauprez' petition is also valid, a maximum of five possible candidates can appear on the June 24 primary ballot.

Up to three candidates can gain ballot access at the state GOP assembly on Saturday by winning the support of 30 percent or more of the delegates there.

Tancredo tells 9NEWS he will not seek delegates at the Assembly now that he has gained access to the ballot. Beauprez has said he will not attempt to win delegates either.



The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels makes it official:

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo has made the ballot for governor, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In order to petition onto the ballot, Tancredo’s campaign had to collect 1,500 signatures from registered Republicans in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. The petitions were due March 31. Tanacredo on March 27 was the first governor’s candidate to to turn in his signatures.

With Tom Tancredo safely on the ballot, it will be interesting to see what becomes of any assembly delegates who may have pledged to him–Tancredo did receive at least some amount of support at the GOP caucuses, after all, though we can't say how much since many precincts did not conduct preference polls. A poll of our own follows.

Can Tom Tancredo win the GOP gubernatorial nomination?
Total votes: 22
Yes (4 votes, 18%)
No (3 votes, 14%)
Not sure (0 votes, 0%)
God I hope so, says Gov. Hickenlooper (15 votes, 68%)

Will 2014 Be Rep. Doug Lamborn’s Final Year in Congress?

Doug Lamborn (R).

Doug Lamborn (R).

As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Retired Gen. Irv Halter, Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District, has released his latest campaign figures ahead of the deadline, and the show that he's brought in just over $165,000 in the first quarter of 2014…

[Campaign Manager Ethan] Susseles said – to date – the campaign has raised almost three-times more than any of Lamborn's other general election challengers. Halter has raised a total of almost $341,000.

Halter will have $217,432 cash on hand when the official campaign finance report is filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 15, Susseles said.

Fundraising reports in the Republican-dominated CD-5 are starting to become hotly-anticipated, particularly with Republican Bentley Rayburn now challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn for the GOP nomination. Lamborn ended 2013 with just slightly more cash-on-hand than Democrat Irv Halter, but he had to scramble to get there when you consider that his campaign had a measly $28,000 in the bank after Q2 (2013).

But why might Lamborn lose in 2014 when he has fought off challenges before? It's simple: there's too many hurdles to overcome this year.

Retired military officers have eye on CO-5

Irv Halter (D-left) and Bentley Rayburn (R-right).

Lamborn has always had to fight off challenges since he was first elected in a six-way Republican Primary in 2006, but this year he faces perhaps the greatest threat to his re-election efforts. The Republican-led Congress is the most-disliked institution in the history of polling, and Lamborn has certainly earned his place in the lowest tier of the lowest tier when it comes to effectiveness. Lamborn is also hampered by being absolutely terrible at raising money, and now he's going to have to work extra hard to bring cash in the door with an unexpected June Primary just around the corner (assuming Rayburn makes threshold at the CD-5 Republican assembly). 

There's absolutely no arguing that CD-5 is a solid Republican district that the GOP should never lose (at least until the next redistricting in 2021). If a Democrat were to win in a General Election, the seat would almost certainly fall back into Republican hands in 2016. But we think there is a real chance that Lamborn could lose his seat in 2014. Lamborn has been more dysfunctional than usual in the last 12 months, and his support for shutting down the government last fall will definitely hurt him at the polls (in both June and November). With such a large military presence, no Congressional district in Colorado relies as much on the federal government for employment — and negative ads hitting Lamborn for siding with Party over District will be devastating.

Lamborn has dealt with Rayburn as a Primary foe in both 2006 and 2008, but there were always other candidates to split voters. This year Rayburn will face Lamborn mano-a-mano, and that scares Lamborn for two reasons: (1) Lamborn would probably have lost a 2008 Primary if either Rayburn or Jeff Crank had dropped out of the running, so there is a precedent for concern, and (2) the very fact that Rayburn could enter the race just two weeks before the CD-5 assembly is evidence of how little love there is for Lamborn among even Republican caucus-goers. In any other Congressional district in Colorado, it would be ludicrous to think that someone could pose a serious challenge to an incumbent by entering the field so late in the game; that this is even possible in CD-5 speaks volumes about Lamborn's approval in the district.

For Lamborn to survive a June Primary against Rayburn, it is going to cost him every cent in his "warchest" to get there. Rayburn will likely hit Lamborn hard over his general incompetence, and his military background will give more heft to criticism of Lamborn's role in the government shutdown.

Should he survive a GOP Primary, Lamborn will have little time to refill his campaign coffers before he needs to go back on the air for the General Election. With donors committed to so many other key races around the country (including CD-6 here in Colorado), Lamborn might have trouble convincing people to give him more money for a seat that should never be in danger. Republicans don't want to lose any seat in the House, but they know that winning back CD-5 would be fairly easy in 2016, so the big-picture concern is minimal (this is different in, say, CD-6, where the 2014 winner has a huge advantage in holding a swing seat).


Theoretically, Lamborn should be able to win re-election if he can hold off Rayburn — historically that has always been the case in CD-5. But there is also a growing feeling among Republicans who are sick of Lamborn's invisible Congressman act that it would be worth losing CD-5 for two years if it meant getting rid of Lamborn — and many of those same Republicans see Democrat Irv Halter as a very moderate candidate who would be a strong representative for the military community for a few years. Yes, Lamborn has defeated retired military officers before, but he's never had an opponent with a resume as impressive as Halter's: a retired fighter pilot and Major General in the Air Force, Halter also served as Vice Superintedent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs before becoming Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs (managing global military operations). Halter has also shown a strong command of politics, with a strong fundraising performance right out of the gate.

Before you dismiss the idea that Lamborn may be in trouble, such a circumstance would not be entirely out of the ordinary in Colorado. In 2008, Democrat Betsy Markey defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave – another volatile elected official that Republicans had grown tired of supporting in a traditionally-safe CD-4. Markey was not able to hold the seat in 2010, when she lost her re-election bid to Republican Cory Gardner.

"Can Democrats win in CD-5?" We'd argue that this is the wrong question to ask.

"Can a Democrat beat Doug Lamborn in 2014?" It's growing more possible by the day.



Will Beauprez be banned from Saturday’s GOP convention, like Norton was in 2010?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


Delegates at the state Republican convention will vote Saturday to pick one or more of the GOP gubernatorial candidates who will appear on the primary election June 24.

But delegates will not have the option of voting for Bob Beauprez, who's the only Republican GOP gubernatorial candidate who's decided to skip Saturday's convention and rely only on petitioning onto the June primary ballot.

The question is, will Beauprez be told not to attend the convention, like failed Senate candidate Jane Norton was in 2010 when she decided to forgo a vote at the assembly? Not only was her presence banned, but so were any Norton banners, signs, and literature. Presumably, Norton could have stood on the public sidewalk outside the convention hall, and indeed her signs were scattered out there in 2010, but Norton stayed away.

Then State GOP Chair Dick Wadhams was clear that no whiff of Norton would be tolerated, telling The Denver Post's Allison Sherry at the time:

Wadhams: “Any candidates for statewide office who forgo the caucus assembly process will not be allowed to speak,” Wadhams said. “They will not be allowed to have banners or signs or literature at the state convention. If the convention is not good enough to participate in, it’s not good enough for them to have a presence. That’s their decision.”

Media outlets have yet to determine if the same rules will be enforced, which makes for an interesting angle on equal-pay week. An email to GOP Chair Ryan Call seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

GOP candidates must receive 30 percent of the vote at the state convention to make the June 24 primary ballot. Additionally, they must garner at least 10 percent of votes to be placed on the ballot, even if they've collected enough signatures to make the ballot. If no candidate at the convention hits the 30-percent threshold, then the top to vote-getting candidates will make the primary ballot.

By skipping the convention, Beauprez eliminates any risk that his name would be struck from the ballot for getting less than a 10 percent of the convention vote, assuming he makes the ballot via the petition process. It appears that he will make the ballot via signatures.

Tom Tancredo has already petitioned on the primary ballot.

The winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary will take on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Leading candidates, in addition to Beauprez and Tancredo, are Secretary of State Scott Gessler and Sen. Greg Brophy.

Earlier this year, State Chair Call clarified that GOP candidates are allowed to both petition on the GOP primary ballot and go through the assembly process.