As reported by Chalkbeat Colorado and other media this week, the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday upheld a much-debated 2010 state law that lets school districts place veteran teachers on unpaid leave if they are underperforming. Meaning, tenure won’t shield teachers from dismissal.
The ruling drew accolades from education reformers, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Johnston, who as a state senator had sponsored the law when it was still a bill in the legislature.
As expected, the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, denounced the ruling — tenure being a cornerstone of collective bargaining agreements. (The union’s attorneys had represented the plaintiffs in the suit that led to the court decision.)
The face-off between those two takes on the subject has riven the Democratic Party for years. Following Monday’s ruling, it spilled over onto the pages of Colorado’s unofficial Democratic barometer, Colorado Pols.
The blog took note of the development — and zeroed in on Johnston’s praise of the court action as well as the fact his position was in sync with that of the conservative Republican education-reform group Ready Colorado. (For the record, the longtime liberal advocacy shop Colorado Children’s Campaign also welcomed the ruling.)
That prompted a flurry of comments posted by readers who heaped scorn on Johnston — and in some cases questioned whether he belonged in the Democratic Party:
“He and Lebsock…”? Ouch.
Johnston — a onetime teacher who has proven to be a champion fund-raiser so far in the governor’s race — did draw some support:
One alert contributor to the comment thread pointed out Johnston isn’t alone on the campaign trail in his support of the state law that was reaffirmed Monday: Rival Democratic gubernatorial contender and 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Jared Polis also embraced the policy. Polis, an education reformer and charter school champion in his own right, reiterated his support for the law in an op-ed he penned for Politico in 2013.
Tom Steyer is back in Colorado politics. Well, actually, he never really left. Anyone who follows politics in our state should know Steyer well. He’s the environmental activist and California hedge-fund billionaire who spent more than $7 million on a failed campaign against U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R) in 2014. He poured at least $2 million more into Colorado politics in 2016, spending big on the presidential election and another failed campaign to seize control of the Colorado state legislature.
…Probably not; Dem-lovin’ Colorado Pols took a shot Wednesday at relentlessly Republican Colorado Peak Politics, but as of late in the day, Peak still wasn’t paying Pols no never mind over the barb and seemed preoccupied with other political fodder. Rats.
At any rate, here’s the better part of Pols’ post by media monitor Jason Salzman:
If you think that liking conservative talk radio and hating U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner are mutually exclusive, you would be wrong.
And in doing so, Bonniwell said something you don’t often hear from the mouths of righties: ColoradoPols is a much better blog than the conservative Colorado Peak Politics, which describes itself as “Colorado’s Conservative Bully Pulpit.”
Calling Pols “incredibly snarky, unfair, and everything else,” Bonniwell nonetheless said Pols is “kind of fun” and interesting reading, even though it’s a “left-wing” site.
Referring to Peak Politics, Bonniwell said, “You might as well read press releases and fall asleep, unfortunately.”
I wouldn’t even go that far, but yes, between Pols and Peak Politics, there’s objectively no contest.
Colorado Pols brings us word of another protest by disabled-rights activists attempting to engage Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on his home turf in Yuma — this time, at his house on New Year's Eve.
State Rep. Steve Lebsock, the Thornton Democrat facing complaints he sexually harassed a fellow lawmaker and a former lobbyist, on Friday chastised social media denizens who've been heaping criticism on state Rep. Lori Saine, the Firestone Republican arrested and jailed this week at Denver International Airport for bringing a loaded handgun to a security checkpoint.
The aftershocks were still coming days after a Republican vacancy committee picked a replacement for former state Rep. Clarice Navarro, the Pueblo Republican who resigned to take a position with the Trump administration in early November.
Judy Reyher, a Swink resident and former Otero County GOP chair, won the appointment to Navarro’s seat on a 6-5 vote when the House District 47 panel met Monday night in Fowler, about half way between Pueblo and La Junta in southeast Colorado, but that was only the beginning.
… after a period of introspection, it became clear that Perlmutter’s seniority in Congress and long record of effective leadership in this district are powerful assets that serve his constituents and the state well.
So yes, he gets to do this. As we’ve said before, it’s possible that there is no one in Colorado politics today who has the political capital to pull this kind of episode off without loss of standing besides Ed Perlmutter. His decision to run again, as painful as it is to his would-be successors through no fault of their own, is therefore one that everybody on the Democratic side of the aisle is compelled to accept.
The other candidates will all get their chances, in no small part based on their graciousness today.
“Compelled to accept,” got it? A pretty definitive statement from an influential voice that, sure, is very comfortable with Perlmutter but also is close to some of the other contenders who have now dropped out of what was going to be a competitive primary. And Pols offered this blunt assessment of the one candidate who is still in:
The only other candidate still nominally remaining the Democratic CD-7 race is Dan Baer, a former Obama administration diplomat who parachuted into the race early in August:
A spokeswoman for Baer, who said he raised more than $300,000 in the two weeks after he announced his campaign Aug. 1, said Monday that he was traveling and “given the number of twists and turns in this race so far, we don’t have any immediate response.”
Whatever, Baer. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what this locally unknown come-lately candidate says at this point. For all intents and purposes the 2018 CD-7 Democratic primary is over, and Baer will just humiliate himself if he ignores that reality.
Republican gubernatorial candiate Victor Mitchell says he's often called the "nice Donald Trump" in a video interview posted online Monday but also says he'll decline to campaign with Trump in Colorado if he wins the GOP nomination next year.
Ken Buck and talk radio go together like peanut butter and jelly. And just about anytime the conservative Republican U.S. rep from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District turns up on the airwaves, it’s also likely to turn up on the radar of left-ish media watchdog and political blogger Jason Salzman.
That’s how we learned of a shot Buck took at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — theoretically, a redoubt of pro-business Republicans like the congressman — in an interview on Denver’s KNUS 710-AM radio the other day. Salzman, writing for Colorado Pols about “(t)he schism between business groups and some members of the Republican Party in Colorado,” recaps Buck’s on-air remarks while he was promoting his new book, “Drain the Swamp,” to radio host Chuck Bonniwell:
“They are one of the big problems in Washington DC,” replied Buck. “They affirmatively go after conservatives. Tim Huelskamp lost his seat in the western district of Kansas because of the U.S. Chamber targeting Tim as a conservative, and defeating him. They play, and they play very hard. We have some groups on the right, like Club for Growth, that also target folks. But, you know, the Chamber is a corporate cronyist organization that promotes corporate interests at the expense of conservative values. There are a lot of stories to tell about the swamp, and if I didn’t mention the Chamber, they certainly deserve to be mentioned.”