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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 31, 20174min393
U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined a panel of high-profile Colorado women on Wednesday to advocate for engagement in the era of Donald Trump. “Understand that this is about your patriotism, taking responsibility, and how you go forward in improving the daily lives of women, but also making our country even better in that […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 28, 20175min780

Libertarian Todd Mitchem will announce a campaign to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, pointing to his background in the marijuana industry.

Mitchem and his wife, Diana, operate a government affairs and community outreach firm, TMC Partners, which develops strategies for cannabis businesses. He serves as senior government and community affairs liaison for The Green Solution, one of the state’s largest dispensary chains.

Mitchem said he became more heavily involved in the marijuana industry after watching his mother’s battles with cancer, which she beat on two occasions. Mitchem’s mother turned to cannabis and survived, he said.

“I, like millions of Americans, have always believed that the men and women we elect to office have a responsibility to fix the broken parts of our government in a way that helps all Americans,” Mitchem said in a statement. “But after being nearly financially devastated and almost losing my business to rising healthcare premiums and hefty tax burdens, I started to become frustrated by the status quo… I became so fed up that I said, ‘It’s time for me to get in the game.’”

Mitchem acknowledges that he is the “underdog” in the 2nd Congressional District Race, where Democrat Joe Neguse, the former executive director of the state Department of Regulatory Agencies and a former CU regent, has emerged as the front-runner.

Loveland resident Howard Dotson has also filed to run on the Democratic ticket.

Polis, a Democrat, has said that he is not seeking re-election next year, as he mounts a campaign for governor.

Mitchem pointed to dissatisfaction with the current political system, highlighting a 2015 Gallup poll which found that 42 percent of voters identify as independents or Libertarians, compared with 29 percent who identify as a Democrat, and 26 percent who identify as a Republican.

“I am not a career politician who wants more of the same; I am a hard-working father and a husband who’s been focused on making ends meet while also questioning why our government is not working together,” Mitchem said. “It’s time to come up with solutions to the problems that plague our daily lives and finally take action. It’s time for collaboration, leadership skill, and a renewed focus on the real issues that are eroding our freedom while downgrading the American dream down to a mere fleeting fantasy.”

Mitchem said his campaign is planning town hall events and tours of businesses in Congressional District 2. Noting that he is also an author, Mitchem said he will be giving away copies of his book, “You, Disrupted,” at the events.

Mitchem will need to reach a large swath of voters from varying backgrounds in the sprawling district, which includes all or part of Boulder, Larimer, Broomfield, Jefferson, Clear Creek, Eagle, Gilpin, Grand, Summit and Park counties.

Republicans have not yet announced plans for a formidable candidate in the left-leaning district. The Boulder-centric district has been represented by Democrats — Mark Udall, David Skaggs and Tim Wirth, before Polis — for more than 40 years. It includes many of Colorado’s most well known ski areas on the I-70 corridor.

“I understand that being a Libertarian/independent-minded thinker makes me an outsider to the two-party system in Washington, but I think it’s time for a new leader to emerge who listens to independent, centrist and Libertarian voters, as well as those Republicans and Democrats who are also fed up,” Mitchem said.

“Over the course of this race, I will get the word out to Washington that we in America are tired of being ignored. I will be the unifying voice for those people who have none. I think people are done with the inaction in Washington and they are starting to demand their government get to work, regardless of obstacles or the president. Excuse time is over.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 16, 20176min968

Former Obama administration U.S. Ambassador Dan Baer raised more than $300,000 in two weeks since entering the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Colorado Politics has learned.

The Baer campaign confirmed the impressive fundraising haul, though it said that it has not yet analyzed where the money is coming from. Baer said only a handful of donations came from phone calls, and the rest have come from email and social media efforts.

“It’s been a mix of people,” Baer told Colorado Politics on Wednesday.

The fundraising effort eclipses three other Democrats who have been running in the primary for months, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood.

Kerr, Moreno and Pettersen combined for $358,000 in their first financial reporting periods, though more money has been raised since those numbers were reported at the end of the last quarter.

Pettersen topped the first fundraising period for the race, with more than $170,000. Her campaign said fundraising was restricted by her work in the legislature this year, with more than 80 percent of donations coming after the conclusion of the legislative session in May.

Kerr raised more than $104,000 in his first fundraising period. Kerr said 88 percent of the total he raised was accomplished after the legislative session ended in May.

Moreno, who had just five weeks left in the fundraising quarter since jumping into the race at the end of May, raised nearly $85,000.

The three campaigns highlighted that much of their money came from individual donors within Colorado. Supporters of Kerr, Moreno and Pettersen have privately commented that Baer benefits from a wealthy national network.

“I am not independently wealthy,” Baer responded.

A Colorado native who previously served as a U.S. ambassador under President Obama, Baer moved to Arvada after President Trump took office.

Much of the fundraising efforts in the 7th Congressional District for Democrats has been hampered by recent news that Perlmutter is reconsidering whether to run for re-election. Some financial supporters are withholding donations as they wait to see what Perlmutter will do.

A $300,000 start in just two weeks offers Baer a bit of comfort. He must still battle name recognition in Jefferson and Adams counties.

The Republican field for the seat is still developing, though no competitive candidates have yet entered the race, despite the somewhat politically mixed nature of the district.

Baer said his campaign launch video – a “bootstrap” effort, as he described it – helped kickoff fundraising efforts. The video features his work as an ambassador, taking a tough stance on Russia, while also fighting for people to “pursue happiness.”

Born in Denver, Baer grew up in the western suburbs of the city. Before serving as a U.S. ambassador – which began in 2013 – Baer advised corporations and nonprofits as a project leader at the Boston Consulting Group.

He also taught business ethics during the financial crisis, and served in the State Department during the Obama Administration.

Obama tapped Baer to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where he was responsible for implementation of arms control agreements, addressing international conflicts, and working on human rights issues.

Baer, a 40-year-old candidate, is married to Brian Walsh, an environmental economist who advises the World Bank.

Baer said he was “stunned by the response” to his campaign launch video and social media efforts. A former professor at Georgetown University, the Democrat said he has seen contributions from former students, from colleagues he worked with at the State Department, and from other colleagues “who saw me in action in the Obama administration.”

“It’s been both within Colorado and across the country, I’ve been really touched,” Baer said of the contributions.

Shad Murib, campaign manager for Kerr, responded, “We look forward to seeing how many of his donors are from the district or the state of Colorado.”

The Moreno and Pettersen campaigns declined to comment.

When asked about the impressive fundraising haul, Baer said, “Money is necessary but not sufficient to run a good campaign.”

He added, “We have to make democracy deliver. I believe that the first step in solving problems, or the first step in addressing problems, is understanding them… I think it is right and proper that I spend several months listening before I start opining on situations. I am focused on spending as many hours of every day as I can either listening to voters or making sure that I’ll have the resources in place.

“The other thing that people have told me, ‘The only way you can win as an outsider in Colorado is if you’re able to self-fund.’ What I have asked people to do so far is invest in this campaign and invest in a different approach to the moment that we’re in.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 1, 20175min583

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne announced Tuesday she is “actively” exploring a run for governor, her most public signal yet that she will shake up a crowded Democratic field, Colorado Politics has learned.

Colorado Politics first reported last month that she was considering a run for governor. She took that exploration to the next level on Tuesday morning with a news release explaining her thinking.

“Today, as we celebrate what makes the 38th state special on Colorado Day, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to make sure it stays that way,” Lynne said in a statement.

“For the last 15 months, I’ve been privileged to work with and help people in every Colorado county and have come to realize there is much more we can and must do to keep the state moving in the right direction.”

Lynne, 63, has served as lieutenant governor since May 2016.

Since being sworn in as Colorado’s lieutenant governor, Lynne has taken the reins on health care and state operational efficiencies under Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited after next year.

Hickenlooper offered a comment for her formal exploratory announcement.

“Lt. Gov. and Chief Operating Officer Donna Lynne is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with,” Hickenlooper said. “Her long record of exemplary success, both in business and in public service, more than earns her the right to run for governor. Colorado is fortunate to have someone with Donna’s dedication and tenacity who wants to lead our state.”

Recent changes in the Democratic primary for governor – which takes place next June – could push Lynne closer to a decision to run in the already crowded primary. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada surprisingly dropped out of the race, leaving an uncertain fate for the party.

Still left in the race is U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg.

Lynne could bring a more moderate approach to the race. Having served as the chairwoman of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and given her prior work as the executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Lynne has developed many contacts in the business community.

The Republican field also is crowded. District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew, are the best-known candidate.

But more high-profile Republican names are expected to enter the primary, including State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run on the Republican ticket.

Lynne’s health care agenda this year included measures aimed at curbing the opioid crisis, lowering the cost of health care outside of Denver, and bringing transparency to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, to name a few priorities.

While health care takes up about 35 percent of her time along with work on education, Lynne also serves as the state’s chief operating officer. In her capacity as chief operating officer, Lynne pushes a theme of “accountability” and “transparency.” Work includes improving annual performance plans for the state and conducting quarterly performance reviews across all departments.

When Lynne is not climbing 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado and traveling the state in between 14-hour work days, she is drawing upon her background in public service. She said her transition into office was relatively easy given her background in government, having spent a total of 20 years working in various positions in New York City government.

Lynne said she expects to make a final decision on entering the Democratic primary by early September. She is also expected to hold a media availability on Tuesday.

“Given the current state of affairs in this country, I believe we need pragmatic leaders who care about people and are willing to put politics aside and get things done,” Lynne said. “I’ve spent my career helping people and leading big organizations — both in government and in the private sector. That’s the kind of experience we need right now.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 31, 20174min6745

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis announced that two women will lead the management of his campaign.

Jenn Ridder, a well-known operative within Democratic circles, will take the position of campaign manager, and Lisa Kaufmann, a long-time Polis staffer who ascended to chief of staff, will assume the role of chair of the campaign.

Ridder, a Colorado native, previously worked with Democratic congressional campaigns across Colorado as the Mountain West political director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC.

Ridder also served as the political director for President Obama’s re-election campaign in Colorado and served as deputy campaign manager for former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who lost re-election in 2014.

“As a tech entrepreneur, businessman, and community leader, Jared’s a progressive who gets things done,” Ridder said. “Colorado needs that now more than ever, which is why I’m excited to work with him as he continues to fight for Colorado families.”

Kaufmann will leave Polis’ congressional staff to serve full-time for the campaign. She has previously worked in several positions on Polis’ staff during her 10-year tenure with the congressman. She served as a personal assistant, campaign manager, and chief of staff.

“It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to continue to work with a principled leader who has a bold vision for the future of the state I love,”  Kaufmann said.

“I am excited to have Lisa and Jenn at the top of my leadership team as our people-powered, grassroots campaign continues to grow,” Polis added in a statement. “Together we will bring a bold vision for Colorado’s future to deliver real results Coloradans deserve on 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, free preschool and kindergarten statewide, and an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”

The already crowded Democratic race for Colorado governor took a turn earlier this month when U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada dropped out. Perlmutter was believed to be the front-runner. His departure presented a clearer path for Polis.

Also in the race are former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy of Denver, former state Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver and Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne is seriously considering jumping into the race, which could shake it up again.

Polis, a a 42-year-old millionaire from Boulder, has a financial advantage in the race, but some political analysts question his ability to win a statewide election, as he tends to lean further to the left in a middle-of-the-road state.

The Republican field for governor has been slower to grow. District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew, currently dominate the race.

But more high-profile Republican names are expected to enter the primary, including State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run on the Republican ticket.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 18, 20173min761

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat running for governor, raised more than $274,000 in his first fundraising period, largely fueled by his own contributions.

In the 18-day reporting period since Polis launched his campaign in June, he reported more than 450 individual contributions, with nearly 85 percent coming from Coloradans.

But much of the money – about $255,000 – came from individual monetary and non-monetary contributions from Polis to his own campaign. A 42-year-old millionaire, Polis made much of his money as an early online florist.

The campaign explained that Polis is voluntarily not accepting any Political Action Committee contributions and capping individual contributions at $100.

“Jared believes all Coloradans have an equal stake in our state’s future and together we can build a people-powered campaign,” read a statement from the Polis campaign upon filing his first campaign finance report.

Polis is one of several Democrats running in a crowded primary field to replace Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term limited after next year.

The race was shaken up last week when U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada announced that he would no longer seek the governor’s office. Perlmutter’s departure leaves Polis in the race along with former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg, and former state Sen. Mike Johnston.

Johnston on Monday reported raising more than $300,000 in his second fundraising period. He has close to $1 million in fundraising to boast. Ginsburg filed a report for just under $93,000 in contributions in his second fundraising period. Kennedy filed for $343,000 in her first fundraising period.

It’s possible that the Democratic field for governor could grow, with Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne rumored as a candidate.

The Republican field for governor includes District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew.

The Republican field for governor is expected to grow with state Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 14, 20174min359
State Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, addresses a rally in support of public education on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, at Denver's Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
State Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, addresses a rally in support of public education on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, at Denver’s Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Colorado State Sen. Andy Kerr, a Democrat hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, will report raising more than $104,000 in his first fundraising period, Colorado Politics has learned.

The campaign says fundraising was driven by grassroots and in-state donations, with 536 donors. More than 85 percent came from within Colorado. Almost three-fourths of the donations were under $100, according to the campaign.

Kerr, from Lakewood, jumped into the race after Perlmutter, a Democrat, announced that he would run for governor. Perlmutter this week bowed out of the gubernatorial race, through he said he would not run for re-election to Congress.

Kerr is one of three Democrats in Jefferson and Adams counties running in next year’s primary.

“I’m pleased with where we are, and we met our goals for this early stage of the campaign,” Kerr said in a statement. “I’m especially proud of the number of small donations – we are a grassroots campaign that represents the working families of Jefferson and Adams counties. I’m a teacher, not a D.C. insider, and most of my contributions reflect that. I’m happy that our support comes from the community I’ll represent.”

Kerr pointed to his roots as a public school teacher.

“I support Andy because I’ve known him for a long time and I know he will fight for kids and families like ours in Washington, D.C.,” said former Jefferson County School Board Chair Lesley Dahlkemper. “His work ethic, his dedication to this community, and his belief in public service, means Andy Kerr is the person we want representing us in Congress – because his values reflect our values.”

Reports are due to the Federal Election Commission by July 15. Kerr’s detailed campaign finance report was not yet available.

The other two Democrats running for the seat are Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City.

Pettersen earlier this week reported raising more than $170,000 in her first fundraising period. Her campaign said fundraising was restricted by her work in the legislature this year, with more than 80 percent of donations coming after the conclusion of the legislative session in May.

Moreno earlier on Friday reported raising nearly $85,000 in his first fundraising period. Moreno announced his campaign at the end of May and had just five weeks left in the fundraising quarter.

Kerr said 88 percent of the total he raised was accomplished after the legislative session ended in May.

The Republican field for the 7th Congressional District is still shaping up. While the district favors Democrats, there is a large amount of unaffiliated voters that could hand the right Republican candidate a win.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 11, 20176min713

An emotional Ed Perlmutter said Tuesday that he does not have “enough fire in the belly” to juggle both a gubernatorial campaign and to serve in Congress.

The high-profile Democrat bowed out of the governor’s race at a news conference in Golden that at times felt more like a funeral, as supporters hugged each other and cried while mourning the looming departure of their beloved leader.

First reported by Colorado Politics on Monday, Perlmutter will not run for re-election in 2018 in the 7th Congressional District, leaving open a spirited primary between three Democrats who are vying to replace the congressman in Jefferson and Adams counties.

“When you get elected, you have a contract with the folks you represent,” Perlmutter said of why he didn’t resign his congressional seat to run for governor. “I thought I could do it all. I’m telling you right now, in front of all of you, I can’t.”

Perlmutter acknowledged that the landscape changed in the crowded Democratic primary when U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder entered last month. Polis, a 42-year-old gay millionaire, has the ability to self-fund and raise money from a liberal base of the party.

But Perlmutter said fundraising was not the reason he exited the race. He said he will report about $350,000 from his first quarter since announcing a run three months ago, with 1,200 contributions, 700 of which were under $100, and at least 80 percent came from Colorado.

“Jared is a good friend of mine…” Perlmutter said. “When he got in, I had to take a good look deep down as to what it was going to take to win this race.”

Some Democrats fear that with Perlmutter out, Polis becomes the front-runner, which could make it difficult for Democrats to win the general election against a Republican.

Perlmutter said he is not sure whether Polis is too liberal to win a statewide general election in Colorado. But he added, “I don’t think anybody should hold it against him that he’s super smart and he made a lot of money.”

Following Perlmutter’s announcement, Polis said, “My friend Ed Perlmutter has always been a tireless champion for working families. I want to thank him for his amazing dedication to Colorado and his candidacy for governor. As a trusted and effective colleague, I look forward to continuing our work together for the remainder of this congressional session.”

Right-leaning Compass Colorado said Perlmutter’s exit means the Democratic party is shifting further to the left.

“It started with ‘Democratic socialist’ Bernie Sanders’ delegates sweeping the caucuses across the state last year, and now even a left-leaning center-left candidate can’t see a path to victory in this clown car primary,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado.

Political analyst Eric Sondermann said Perlmutter’s decision highlights the free-for-all nature of the primary, adding that it could open the door for another high-profile centrist candidate to enter, such as Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, who has been weighing a run.

“A month ago, Perlmutter was the presumed front runner. Now he’s gone. A number of campaigns, and not just Polis’s, think they can be the beneficiary,” Sondermann said. “The real question is whether there is another shoe to drop – that being a higher heel of the lieutenant governor.”

The Democratic gubernatorial field remains crowded, despite Perlmutter’s departure. In addition to Polis, former state Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver, civics leader Noel Ginsburg, and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, are all competing to take over the governor’s office.

“Congressman Perlmutter has been fighting for Coloradans for decades. I hope we continue to see his leadership in Colorado on whatever path he chooses,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I wish him and his family the very best and will miss seeing him on the campaign trail.”

With Perlmutter not running for re-election in the 7th Congressional District, state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, are free to continue to battle to take control of the seat.

“Ed Perlmutter has been an outstanding congressman and a tremendous leader for the people of Colorado,” Pettersen said. “I join many others in our community in thanking him for his public service.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJune 25, 20174min236
Four Democratic gubernatorial candidates have been invited to speak at the July Western Conservative Summit, the largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C. U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada, Jared Polis of Boulder, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and former state Sen. Mike Johnston have all been invited to attend. Left out of the […]

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