This one already has gotten plenty of air time, but it’s worth repeating here amid the current furor over politicians’ meetings with constituents — notably, who’s holding town halls and who’s accused of hiding from them. Denver 9News’s Anna Staver and Brandon Rittiman looked at some hard data this week that suggests things aren’t all that different from previous, less contentious years.
The numbers — still subject to interpretation, as always — tend to belie claims that Colorado’s junior Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of the 6th Congressional District have dropped off the radar. In fact, 9News finds, they’re pretty much where they’ve always been.
To an extent, that shouldn’t really come as a surprise. It is no secret in the political biz that stalking politicians and very vocally calling them to account for assorted high crimes and misdemeanors following a presidential election is standard operating procedure for the losing party. The familiar strategy was bound to be unusually pointed and pronounced in the wake of last fall’s upset victory by one of the more — shall we say? — unconventional presidential candidates in American history. Arguably, the upheaval represented by the Donald Trump phenomenon and the ensuing polarization it fostered inevitably led to the activist backlash now being directed at the likes of Gardner and Coffman. Both, ironically, had rather unkind things to say about The Donald just before his stunning victory yet now, to an extent, are taking a fall for him.
In that context, consider 9News’s conclusion after it mulled data from the firm Legistorm:
In terms of numbers of town halls, both in-person and remote, there hasn’t been a tectonic shift in the number being held in Colorado.
What has changed is the person in the Oval Office and the balance of power in Congress.
So, when protestors complain about Gardner and Coffman ducking town halls, what they seem to want is more opportunities than before to challenge the side that won.
It’s by no means wrong to ask for more access, but it’s worth knowing that our members of congress mostly haven’t changed the way they do this.
That’s just the main takeaway from the 9News report, which offers a lot more enlightening detail on the record of each member of Colorado’s Washington delegation and their availability to meet with the public. The report is worth a close look; here’s that link again. Nice work, guys.