Looks like Grace Davis got the last word in Douglas County over the school board election. The conservative, pro-voucher board turned over. Board candidates who support local school funding for public schools won the day.
It’s not just the Republican party fracas that’s in the news. The Democratic party is scrambling too. Two feature news articles in Time and the New York Times describe the cri de coeur and muck of national Democrats. Then came Donna Brazile’s blistering takedown in her book, Hack, all puns intended.
Active independent expenditure committees, aka political action committees (PACs), currently number 61 registered at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. These committees collect money to support candidates. The sources of the funds are undeclared, so only the total amount of donations shows in Secretary of State's Office forms. These PACS do not coordinate with candidates.
A recent poll conducted by Chris Keating of Keating Research, a polling and survey firm that consults primarily for Democrats including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, reveals that Colorado’s political environment parallels the nation’s, but preferences on energy issues are distinctly Coloradan. The results come from 605 active voters, with a margin of error at 4 percent, plus or minus.
As with the country as a whole, Coloradans hold President Donald Trump at 40% favorable to 58% unfavorable, and give Gov. John Hickenlooper a 60% favorable to 32% unfavorable rating. Numbers are more contrasting at the Very Unfavorable level, with 51% Very Unfavorable for Trump and 19% Very Unfavorable for Hickenlooper.
Since Keating works mostly for the left side of the aisle, it’s important to look at his call list. He called 48% men and 52% women. His age range was 18-24 at 10% up to 70+ at 15%. Voters with children age 18 or younger comprised 27% of the sample and the split by party affiliation was 25% Democrat, 26% Republican, and 45% Independent. Colorado’s active voter registration actually divides almost equally at 32% Dem to 32% GOP to 36% Unaffiliated.
Happily, the survey shows that 64% of Coloradans think the state is headed in the “right direction” with 28% favoring the down side.
The poll’s main purpose was to explore voter commitment to four energy types as sources for development: coal, wind, solar and natural gas. It sought especially to pinpoint voters’ views on what energy sources should increase or decrease in use. Coloradans now have a dim view of coal, with 57% of respondents saying its use should decrease and only 18% choosing to increase its use. Wind (+76%) and especially solar (+84%) showed the most support for increased use, with natural gas at +36%.
The survey suggests that Coloradans from both political parties want public utilities to collaborate on reducing carbon emissions: 89% agree/11% disagree. Voters want the state to work with utilities to increase the use of clean renewable energy at 95% agree/5% disagree. Almost 50% of voters support increasing the state’s 30% renewable energy standard to over 50%. Most Coloradans (83%) want to take control of their energy future without waiting for the federal government to jump in.
The polling numbers indicate that Xcel’s recent decisions to add more renewable energy to its portfolio makes sense. Closing coal plants is apparently generally acceptable to Coloradans.
Clearly, renewable solar and wind power are popular. Natural gas is holding its own despite opposition to drilling from some cities along the northern Front Range.
These results have implications for the 2018 governor and legislator races on both Democratic and Republican sides. Democratic candidates can feel comfortable promoting more renewables. The effect of fracking vs. anti-fracking positions on voter preference is less clear.
Republicans face a different picture in the primaries and general election. Anti-climate change Republicans may be in sync with a majority in their party during the primary season. But that position is deeply out of sync with a majority of voters who will cast ballots in the general election.
One other interesting set of data. While 45% of the polled population identified as independent voters, only 25% viewed themselves as moderates. These individuals were outnumbered by liberals at 34% and conservatives at 38%. It appears there’s a muddy middle spectrum of voters, a minority, who support reduced-carbon energy policy. They will make a difference in how the general election turns out.
Two interesting questions arise for the Democratic primary race for governor: How much money will the races attract, and how much money will it take to gain the number of votes to win the race? The first question affects both primaries and the general election. The second question concerns mostly the general election.
Money had to be a significant factor in U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s decision to drop out of the governor’s race. He was outraised by all the major candidates, with Cary Kennedy, former State Treasurer, matching the congressman’s pot in just one quarter of fundraising.
Polis will get dollars out of his own money-market account. Former state Sen. Michael Johnston has probably raised more than $1 million already, since his current report shows over $930,000. Kennedy has $330,000-plus. Donna Lynne won’t report until October, but her long reach into the Colorado business community should get her to a million pretty quickly. If she doesn’t get close to that early in 2018, she’s in trouble. The Democratic governor’s primary will require well over $1 million per candidate. It could easily pass $8 million total.
The breakout of Dem primary votes is anybody’s guess. Since primaries bring out the most active voters, candidates will jockey for the 1,046,832 registered Dems considered active voters plus some share of the 1,187,916 voters registered as unaffiliated. Dem candidates will look to individuals who’ve voted in multiple even-year elections and especially those Dems and unaffiliateds in predominantly Democratic counties who voted in off-year school board and mill and bond elections.
On an “issue” basis, fracking may be the most important. Over 580,000 Democratic voters live in Front Range counties where an anti-fracking position may be definitive: Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Larimer. That’s over half of the state’s active Democratic voters, which means candidates will have to take a direct position that could turn problematic in the general election.
Gov. John Hickenlooper finessed anti-fracking votes due to weak Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2010 and 2014 and his support of some regulation on the industry. As many have noted, however, the ongoing drilling in northern Front Range counties has upped the pressure.
Polis has established a solid record on the anti-fracking side, though activist Democrats and environmentalists objected to the deal he cut with the governor to keep oil and gas initiatives off the ballot in 2014. Lynne’s candidacy may be most vulnerable to activist Democratic voters based on her moderately pro-business orientation and the governor’s oil and gas record.
But that’s the rub for Democrats. If Polis wins the primary, many business interests, and especially extraction industries, will pour money directly to Republicans and indirectly to “issue” advertising to defeat him. An offset may come from renewable energy and technology enterprises that the congressman has consistently supported.
One other issue could potentially hurt Polis and Johnston: their strong support of charter schools. Polis funds his own charter and Johnston sponsored bills on public teacher evaluation and school finance. Teacher evaluation has been significantly modified and school finance was defeated at the polls. Both candidates may experience tepid financial and voter support among traditional public school teachers, a significant proportion of active Democratic voters.
The interests that have beefs with the various Democratic candidates have lots of money that can hurt in both primary and general elections. Republicans have their own problems, so they shouldn’t lick their chops. But the Democratic primary winner may come out of the primary with more than bumps and bruises.
Usually, large campaign expenditures occur in election years. But in 2017 candidates for Colorado governor from both parties are lining up their campaign consulting firms and spending loads of money now. Voters should brace themselves for the deluge.
Entrepreneur Victor Mitchell, a self-funder, has already sent out a multipage epic to introduce himself to GOPers. He’s picked Go Big Media as his outreach firm with a $73,000 investment. Former state legislators Al White, Dan Marostica, and Steve Durham, now on the State Board of Education, have added to Mitchell’s $15,676 in individual contributions. He’s loaned his campaign $3,002,700.97.
George Brauchler, district attorney in Arapahoe County, has Jeff and Lis Coors, David and Bonnie Mandarich, and prominent Jeffco politico and candy magnate Rick Enstrom among his contributors. In a July New Yorker article about Colorado Trump supporters, Brauchler was quoted telling fellow Republicans, “I’m not a rich guy.” He’s brought in $183,398 so far.
Doug Robinson, a Mitt Romney relative and a rich guy, has garnered $207,532 with a $57,022 loan. He’s hooked up with Strategic Partners Media from Maryland. No surprise, the company’s principal client is Mitt Romney. Robinson has spent $90,000 so far, with over $30,000 to Strategic Partners.
Walker Stapleton, Colorado state treasurer, hasn’t formally joined the GOP race, but he has $21,273 in his coffers. When he ran for treasurer, he used Red Print Strategy as his principal media firm. He won a close race against Cary Kennedy, a Democrat also running for governor. Stapleton has already held off-the-books fundraisers so he clearly intends to pick up enough money to compete with Mitchell and Robinson.
If Attorney General Cynthia Coffman jumps into the GOP governor’s primary, she’ll have a lot of catching up to do. She has $32,267.59 on hand for her AG race. When she ran in 2014, she had about $135,000, so her fundraising was modest. In 2014 she sent $85,000 to Mentzer Media Services for media buys. Maybe she has the formula for how to run for statewide office on the cheap.
Dem Cary Kennedy is no fundraising chump. She’s gathered $339,680 already and hired local company 4Degre.es, a firm with plenty of local Democratic clients, including the former candidate for governor Ed Perlmutter. She’s paid over $30,000 to get started.
Even so, Kennedy has lots more money calls to make. Former state Sen. Michael Johnston has $933,040 from contributors across the nation. He’s placed $30,000 with 270 Strategies, a firm out of the Obama world. The company takes on “clients who are committed to changing the world,” so Johnston obviously has bigly aspirations for Colorado.
Businessman Noel Ginsburg has $245,164 in total, including a $100,000 loan. He’s picked local firm Black Diamond Outreach to kick off his campaign. Steve Adams, Cory Nadler and Mike O’Connell have managed numerous state initiative campaigns and GOTV activities. Their expertise is in door-to-door walking. “BDO was founded with that sole mission,” with an emphasis on sole.
US Congressman and multi-millionaire Jared Polis won’t have a problem keeping up with Democrat Ginsburg or any of the wealthy GOP entrepreneurs. Right now he’s showing $273,812.25 in the pot with no loans. He just straight up gave his campaign $250,000. He’s placed $34,570 with Boulder Strategies, a self described exclusive media company with Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter, Domenick Moreno, and Jeff Bridges, current state representative, as principal clients.
In the past, TV and radio stations and printers had to watch their cash flow in off election years. Not so anymore. Lucky them and not so lucky the rest of us.
Farmers and urbanites can be friends, despite their different residential environments. While many rural Coloradans are Republicans and a majority of Front Range urban Coloradans are Democrats, rural Coloradans do get considerable legislative support from all Democrats, including urban lawmakers living in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins.
The 2017 session passed quite a few bills to mitigate the particular problems that come with living in rural Colorado. The Rural Veterinary Education Loan Repayment Program is a good example. Rural Colorado doesn’t have enough veterinarians, so the bill helps four young veterinarians per year repay up to $70,000 of their school loans if they practice in rural Colorado for four years.
The modest bill, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins in the House and Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg from Sterling in the Senate, received a YES vote from every Democratic legislator. Twenty-five House Republicans and 12 Senate GOPers voted NO, including several living in rural areas.
Sustainability of Rural Colorado, a grab bag of a bill, passed with every Democrat in both chambers supporting it and 16 House Republicans and 10 Senate Republicans against it. Republicans voting NO included some suburban, western slope and eastern Colorado legislators. The bill became necessary when Republicans voted down legislation to support rural hospitals that serve Medicaid patients.
The Sustainability bill also helps with transportation infrastructure. An earlier bill to set up a sales tax to provide money for rural roads and bridge repair as well as improvements for urban transportation went down in a Senate committee when three suburban Republican legislators, Jack Tate from Arapahoe County, Tim Neville from South Jeffco, and Owen Hill serving eastern El Paso County, voted NO. The Sustainability bill puts off a tax increase and provides substantially fewer dollars for rural road improvements.
A recent article in the Denver Post on the “Colorado Divide” talked about the difficulty of providing affordable child care in rural Colorado. The Child Care Expenses Income Tax Credit Extension that allows individuals with up to $25,000 adjusted gross income to get a child care credit passed with all Democrats voting YES and 45 Republicans in the House and Senate voting NO.
Another bill to address teacher shortages especially in rural Colorado passed with all YES votes from Democrats and 40 NO votes from Republicans. Only three Senate Republicans, Senate President Kevin Grantham, Larry Crowder from Alamosa, and Don Coram from southwestern Colorado voted YES. GOP representative Marc Catlin from western Colorado is the only House Republican who voted YES.
The BEST Building Excellent Schools Technology Grant Funding bill using marijuana taxes to boost technology in rural Colorado schools received 51 YES votes from Democrats, 15 YES votes from Republicans, and 31 NO votes from Republicans. Rural Republicans in the House who voted YES were Bob Rankin, Catlin, and Dan Thurlow. The bill was more popular with rural Senate Republicans including Crowder, Coram and Senate President Grantham.
The bipartisan mill-levy override bill that equalizes funding between charter schools and traditional public schools passed with help from Democrats. Some rural schools see the bill as further degrading their ability to provide enough money for regular school students. Of 23 NO votes, all but one, from Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida, came from Democrats.
The 2017 General Assembly record shows that rural Coloradans do get solid help from many urban Colorado legislators. It also shows that sometimes the “Colorado Divide” happens when rural lawmakers don’t get behind legislation designed to give rural Coloradans a boost.
Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election, but she, with other women senators, representatives, and governors, has begun the ascendancy of women leaders over political and social policy. The trend brings forward an interesting question: how will men deal with women not only as political leaders but as drivers of policy and prodigious fundraisers.
All Republican women senators were excluded from negotiations over health care. That decision by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cost his repeal and replace cause. The first signs of trouble came when some women GOP senators objected to cutting Planned Parenthood out of the Affordable Care Act. GOP men senators see abortion, but GOP women senators, some of whose family or friends probably use Planned Parenthood facilities, also see annual gynecology exams, mammograms, contraception, and general health care.
While a majority of men GOP senators see Medicaid as a funding drain and a major cause of increased taxation, Republican women senators, especially three who’ve decided to kill any current repeal bill, see Medicaid as health insurance for many single mothers and their children, the disabled, and elderly seniors, a majority of whom are women whose caretakers are women.
So while the vast majority of men GOP senators support the latest repeal bill, 60 percent of women GOP senators reject it (three out of five). President Donald Trump said he’s “very angry” about the lack of progress on repeal and replace. His latest plan is to let the ACA hang in the wind. But that won’t happen because the same women senators concerned about repeal and replace have a stake in a stable health care market.
The next big tests for women policy leaders will be tax reform and the budget. Many women Republican leaders are fiscal conservatives. Trump is placing a big bid on increasing defense spending and reducing education funding. Some congressional legislators want even more spending than Trump on defense. It will be an eye opener to watch how competing priorities – defense vs. health care vs. education vs. climate change – get played out among Republicans as seen through a gender lens.
On a local level, fund raising for women running for elected office will put the pinch on some male candidates. State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, is running against two men candidates for CD-7, currently held by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. She outraised her opponents about 2 to 1. Democratic state Sens. Andy Kerr and Domenick Moreno are likely splitting contributions, while Pettersen is winning money from women. She has the support of Emily’s List, a fundraising juggernaut for women candidates.
Cary Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, hasn’t caught up with Democratic former state Sen. Michael Johnston and won’t catch Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in fundraising. But she has a more Colorado-based donor list and beat out both Polis and Johnston in the most recent fundraising period.
The details tell the story. Polis put in $250,000 of his own money and had roughly 500 donors during the reporting period. Johnston pulled in $301,505 with about 1,600 donors. Kennedy received $339,680 from about 1,750 contributors. Of 124 donors for Johnston at $1,150 each, 91 are out-of-staters. Of Kennedy’s 305 donors at $575 or more, 20 are from out of state.
Pettersen and Kennedy face daunting races. So does Democrat state Rep. Diane Mitsch-Bush, who’s running against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for CD 3. If these women win, they’ll provide more insight into whether women will actually govern differently than men.
Presidencies since John Kennedy have been “owned” by generations. Kennedy started the “greatest generation” cohort. President Bill Clinton started the baby boomer reign. It’s time for a new generation to steer the ship.
The “Greatest Generation” is great. They lived the Great Depression, fought World War II and Korea, and created the biggest economic boom the world has seen. The Greatest Generation presidents include Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. They ran the country from 1960 to 1992.
Unfortunately, for much of that time, it was more guns than roses. VietNam, the boiling cauldron for young baby boomer men, set the tone. Then there was the cold war, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, nuclear weapons, and the drug wars. And, of course, there were the great social movements of civil rights trying to reverse Jim Crow and feminism bringing women into the workplace. At the end, for baby boomers, it seemed the Greatest Generation leaders were never going to move along.
Baby boomers finally wrested the helm when Clinton beat President Bush with the help of Ross Perot. Clinton had a big Electoral College win, but he eked out only a plurality of voters, given that almost 20 million people went for Perot. Sound familiar?
The baby boomer years in power are marked by more wars and a technology revolution beyond any other on earth. But these presidencies brought personal and political messes far exceeding what any of the Great Generation could come up with, excepting Nixon and maybe Reagan, if Iranamuck counts.
It wasn’t that people didn’t know that Clinton was a philanderer when they voted for him. Everyone knew he was an anti-VietNam war guy, which half the nation took as unpatriotic. He won with his feminist wife. With the various women imbroglios and consequent lying, his presidency was ugly.
Was George W. Bush any better? He didn’t quite dodge military service during Vietnam, but he sure didn’t fight over there. His youth was naughty. Sept. 11, and thus the war in Afghanistan, possibly could have been prevented. His administration fudged its way into the Iraq war and set the stage for the big bust at the end of his watch.
It’s just bad when Democrats argue that Bush’s lying wars were worse than Clinton’s affairs, and it’s just as bad when the Republicans’ best moral argument is that Bush didn’t cheat on his wife.
President Barack Obama, the youngest of the baby boomer presidents, didn’t have personal scandals and didn’t start any wars. He was almost a transition to a younger generation, but he didn’t get as much done as many Democrats wanted and got too much done, according to Republicans.
But now there’s President Donald Trump, at the oldest end of the baby boomer generation. In just six months, he’s in a “category five hurricane” mess-up, according to the Washington Post’s leaked reports from White House staff. His crude comments, wild tweets, erratic policy, egocentrism, former womanizing, draft dodging, prevaricating, bombast, mismanagement, fighting with allies, and cozying up to unfriendly governments has taken baby boomer leadership to a whole new level of tragi-hilarity.
The western world and Russia need a massive reboot to get out from under these calamities. Baby boomers have more than run their string. Gen Xers and Millennials, please step up. The helm needs a new generation to steer the ship.