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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsSeptember 27, 201613min369

While Colorado state Senate District 8 has seen some very nasty political attacks in recent years — sometimes even bitter, red-on-red Republican infighting in this mostly conservative rural region — nothing gets people more riled up in these parts than transportation funding shortfalls. Voters who have been stuck for six hours on Interstate 70 when a car with bald tires starts a chain-reaction pileup in a snowstorm will turn a bright shade of red telling you about it, even if they’re the bluest of blue Democrats. And after all, former Mayor Bill McNichols was ousted in the early 80s in part because he failed to clear a massive blizzard from the streets of Denver.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsSeptember 20, 201613min305

There’s no issue more partisan in Colorado than energy production, so it’s not surprising that opinions of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s draft executive order on climate change are divided right along party lines. But some observers are surprised the governor is going there at all. “We do not have a state record of governors using executive orders the way the president of the United States does, and therefore I would characterize Hickenlooper’s actions as unusual for the Colorado chief executive,” said Bob Loevy, professor emeritus of political science at Colorado College. “Governors don’t ordinarily use administrative orders for things that are politically controversial in Colorado.”


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsSeptember 9, 201611min347

“Gail Schwartz, honestly, single-handedly helped in the decline … of the coal miners in the North Fork Valley, in my opinion,” said Rene Atchley, wife of a retired coal miner and mother of several children laid off from coal-mining jobs. “[Schwartz] claims to be a standup person, a fighter. All she has done is stand up and walk away from the people in her district after they asked her repeatedly to help us and she did not.” Schwartz has consistently defended her clean energy policies in the state Legislature, pointing to the need to shutter coal-fired power plants on the Front Range for air-quality reasons, the fact that the vast majority of the coal being burned for electricity in Colorado was coming from Wyoming, not the North Fork, and the overall global collapse of coal brought on by market forces such as the decrease in demand from China and the abundance of cheap natural gas.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsAugust 31, 20168min362

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis on Monday told The Colorado Statesman that the battle for greater local control over oil and gas drilling will keep coming back every two years if the State Legislature is unable to take action on the emotionally charged issue of fracking in and around neighborhoods. “Issues are always best addressed legislatively, but if the Legislature fails to address it, I’m sure proponents of ballot initiatives will be back,” Polis told The Statesman on Monday after Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams concluded supporters of two anti-fracking ballot initiatives — one of which Polis backed — didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsAugust 29, 201611min367

Colorado Democrats say Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump can soften his anti-Mexico stance all he wants but the economic damage has already been done in key tourism markets like Vail that rely heavily on year-round Latin American visitors. Representatives of Trump for Colorado counter that Democrats are engaged in fear-mongering in order to get Hillary Clinton elected president and that Trump will continue to pivot away from his primary-season rhetoric about Mexica


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsAugust 29, 20169min529

When Garett Reppenhagen, an honorably discharged cavalry scout and a sniper with the U.S. Army First Infantry Division, returned to his home state of Colorado in 2005 after serving in Kosovo and Iraq, the wilderness advocate recovered by spending time on public lands. “When I came home I looked to the outdoors kind of instinctively to find healing and repose from the war,” said Reppenhagen, Rocky Mountain Director of the Vet Voice Foundation. “My mom’s house is in Green Mountain Falls near Colorado Springs and borders Pike National Forest and Pikes Peak, so that mountain was kind of a sanctuary for me.”


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsAugust 28, 20169min401

Robert Cresanti, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, calls the nationwide push for mandated minimum wages such as Colorado’s Initiative 101 an existential threat to the uniquely American and highly successful business model of franchising. “There’s the extremely corrosive, challenging and destructive business environment stuff, which falls into the $15 minimum wage [movement], and particularly if they’re discriminatory $15 minimum wage initiatives, which we’ve seen in different parts of the country …,” Cresanti told The Colorado Statesman during a recent IFA tour of the state.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsAugust 2, 201614min370

With the official nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, longtime Democrats and progressive political activists on Colorado’s Western Slope are grappling with the impacts on down-ballot races in a post-Bernie Sanders world. Some candidates and party officials are predicting a Democratic exodus of disaffected Bernie backers to the Green Party, while other say millennial voters will come to their senses and pivot to Clinton once the prospect of GOP nominee Donald Trump becoming president settles in.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsJuly 13, 201618min486

In certain working-class towns on Colorado’s Western Slope, it’s a slur to say someone is an Aspen liberal, and it’s an accusation that’s been thrown at Democrat Gail Schwartz repeatedly since she first decided to challenge incumbent U.S. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, in early April. “While Gail Schwartz has been at a cocktail party somewhere in Aspen, far removed from the working people of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and no doubt patting herself of the back for all her brilliant extremist ideas, Congressman Tipton has been standing up for the coal industry, high paying jobs and affordable energy,” a Tipton fundraising email read on June 7. The strategy is clear: Paint Schwartz, a former state senator and member of the CU Board of Regents, as an elitist Aspenite obsessed with renewable energy at the expense of Colorado’s coal, oil and natural gas industries. It’s reminiscent of Republican attempts, ultimately successful, to portray former Sen. Mark Udall as a Boulder liberal obsessed with social issues over economic concerns.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsJune 15, 201616min532

When former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter was elected to his first and only term in the governor’s mansion in 2006, Colorado generated more than 70 of its electricity by burning coal – the majority of it from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Ten years later, despite the “New Energy Economy” Ritter championed for four years, Colorado still generates more than 60 percent of its power by burning coal, and only 11 states burn more coal for power – led by top coal-producing states like West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming. Colorado still ranked as a top-10 coal-producing state as recently as 2014, although its production has plummeted by 50 percent in the 10 years since Ritter first took office. But that’s mostly because natural gas is so cheap and so abundant, Ritter recently told The Colorado Statesman.