Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 3, 20175min6450

Fans of the state’s history in flight can pay tribute to a pilot from Denver pilot who broke racial barriers, the late Marlon Green, at a banquet next month.

Green won a landmark Supreme Court case that allowed African-Americans to be airline pilots. He died in 2009 at age 80. The Colorado Aviation Historical Society will posthumously induct Green into its hall of fame Oct. 14 at Lakewood Country Club.

The society will also present a special award to a group of Coloradans who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Air Force during World War II. The organization will also recognize its Wright Brothers 50-year Master Pilots.

An Air Force veteran who lived in Denver, Green sued Continental Airlines in 1957. The airline invited him to take its flight test after he failed to note his race on the application. After he passed, the airline refused to hire him, while taking white Air Force pilots with less experience.

With the support of then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Green fought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he won a unanimous decision, in 1963.

He was still kept from becoming the nation’s first black commercial airline pilot, however. Instead, American Airlines hired David Harris, in 1964, a few months before Green was hired by Continental in 1965, eight years after he first applied. He flew for Continental Airlines until 1978.

In 2007, The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum called Green the “Jackie Robinson of Aviation.” In 2009 author Flint Whitlock published the book “Turbulence Before Takeoff: The Life & Times of Aviation Pioner Marlon Dewitt Green.”

In 2010, Continental Airlines named a 737 in Green’s honor.

Tickets are $45 each for the event from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. that Saturday. Those who would like to attend should contact banquet chairman Dave Kempa at 303-521-6761 or

Colorado’s rich history in flight is reflected in its museums, as well as military installations and private employers. Aviation in today supports 265,000 jobs, according to a 2015 report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

In its last session, the legislature exempted sales taxes on historical aircraft used in public displays at least 20 hours a week, partly as a tribute and partly to encourage public education and the preservation of history.

House Bill 1103 was sponsored by Reps. Dan Nordberg, R-Col0rado Springs, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, with Sens. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

The bill notes that The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located in the Lowry neighborhood of Denver has more than 50 historical aircraft on display, about half of which are on local from private owners

Legislative analysts also cited historical aircraft at the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs and the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.


Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 2, 20178min2710


Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 21, 20176min6270

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced Monday morning he’s back in the race for his old seat in Congress from the 7th Congressional District. The Democrat from Arvada said in April he would run for governor but in June he said had lost the competitive fire and dropped out of that race.

The Colorado Pols website first reported Monday morning that Perlmutter would officially seek re-election, and The Denver Post first reported Perlmutter’s statement on his decision.

Colorado Politics was the first to report Perlmutter was reconsidering his earlier decision and would likely run for his seat in Congress again, and that other candidates were reconsidering, as a result.

State Sen. Dominick Moreno and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen announced Monday they are suspending their campaigns, leaving state Sen. Andy Kerr and Dan Baer in the Democratic primary. No Republicans have yet announced.

“Over the last few weeks a lot has happened, both for me and in the world. I’ve taken some time to regroup and recharge, and in so doing I’ve had many meaningful conversations with friends, neighbors, supporters and family who have encouraged me to run again,” Perlmutter said in a statement Monday morning. “I have appreciated each and every conversation. It has made me take time to reflect on the future. And I’ve come to the conclusion to run again for re-election. To ask the hardworking people of the 7th district to once again put their trust in me to be their voice in Washington. I care deeply for our state, and I love my home which is here in the 7th district.

“I’ve talked to Andy, Brittany (and) Dominick and corresponded with Dan about my decision. They are all wonderful people and I know for them and some others my decision is not convenient or well timed, for which I’m sorry. But I know I have more to do and more to give to the people of the 7th district. I understand this is not an ideal situation — I really do — but I know we can all work together to fight for our Colorado way of life.”

Moreno announced Monday morning he is dropping out of the Democratic primary and will instead back Perlmutter.

“We continue to be in great hands with Congressman Perlmutter,” Moreno said in a statement. “Thank you to the many people who supported me along this journey. My time serving our community does not end with our campaign suspending, and I remain committed to standing up for our values in the state Senate.”

Pettersen made a similar announcement Monday afternoon.

“While I’m disappointed I will not have the opportunity to serve our community in Congress, I know that the people of the 7th district will continue to be well represented by Ed Perlmutter,” Pettersen said in a statement. “I am so proud and humbled by the support of the people across Colorado who believed in me and stepped up to contribute, volunteer and support my campaign. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of this great state.”

Kerr said through a spokeswoman Monday he will be discussing the development with friends, family and supporters before making a decision “in the next day or two.”

“Ed’s been a friend, a mentor and a great public servant for the people of CD7 — including my own family,” Kerr told Colorado Politics. “I respect his decision and the wishes of the people he works so hard for.”

A campaign spokeswoman for Baer said the candidate was out of town when the news broke and didn’t have an immediate response.

“Dan jumped into this race because he believes this is a pivotal moment, when we need energetic, fresh leadership and a positive vision,” Baer spokeswoman Laura Shunk told Colorado Politics. “Dan is away for his grandmother’s 90th birthday. Given the number of twists and turns in this race so far, we don’t have any immediate response.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated with comments from Sen. Andy Kerr, Rep. Brittany Pettersen and former ambassador Dan Baer.

— Colorado Politics reporter Ernest Luning contributed to this report.


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 16, 20176min6270

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.”


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 11, 20176min4383

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter may not have “fire in the belly” to run for governor, but he has not ruled out running for re-election to Congress, Colorado Politics has learned.

Multiple sources confirmed that after Perlmutter was approached by constituents and fellow colleagues in Congress about a re-election campaign, he began reconsidering running for re-election. Sources could not speak on the record, as they were not at liberty to discuss the details of Perlmutter’s thoughts.

A re-election campaign would come after Perlmutter, a Democrat from Arvada who represents the 7th Congressional District in Jefferson and Adams counties, declared that he would not pursue the seat again.

Several Democrats have been running to replace Perlmutter in a tightly contested primary, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, also of Lakewood. Also running in the race is former Obama-era U.S. ambassador Dan Baer.

A re-election bid by the popular Perlmutter could cripple those campaigns.

Republicans have yet to present a formidable candidate to win in the district that is dominated by unaffiliated voters.

The Democratic primary candidates have begun fundraising efforts, with Pettersen leading the pack with more than $170,000 in her first quarter. Kerr raised more than $104,000 in his first quarter, and Moreno raised more than $84,000 in just five weeks since he announced his campaign at the end of May.

If Perlmutter chooses to run for re-election, it would mark the continuation of a bizarre series of twists and turns for the congressman after he dropped out of the race for governor last month, just three months after first announcing his candidacy. He was considered to be the front-runner in the race. Perlmutter bowed out just before reporting close to $340,000 in campaign contributions in his first filing period with the state.

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

Also running in the gubernatorial race is former state Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy of Denver and Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne has formed an exploratory committee as she considers a run.

Some speculated that Perlmutter felt pressured to say he would not run for re-election when he dropped out of the governor’s race. In addition to saying that he had lost “fire in the belly” to run for governor, Perlmutter said the recent shooting of Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana also contributed to his decision to get out of politics.

“I know when Steve Scalise got shot, that had something to do with it,” Perlmutter said at a news conference announcing his departure from the governor’s race. “You know, I just took a good look at things.”

But after repeatedly being asked to run for re-election to Congress, Perlmutter began to reconsider the seat, sources say.

Perlmutter has reached out to many of the Democrats in the primary, and at least one candidate confirmed that Perlmutter was hoping to discuss his thoughts on running for re-election, which Perlmutter told the candidate was inspired by pressure to run again.

Much of the pressure came Tuesday at a kick-off event to launch the re-election campaigns of several Jefferson County Board of Education members. Two other 7th Congressional District Democratic campaigns confirmed contact with Perlmutter, though they could not say why Perlmutter wanted to speak with them.

For many Perlmutter supporters, the six-term congressman was leaving politics with a whimper instead of a bang. Despite many in the Democratic Party feeling that he was their best path forward in the gubernatorial race, Perlmutter still dropped out. There were tears in some of his supporters’ eyes as he also announced that he would not run for re-election to Congress.

Sources close to Perlmutter say that in “almost every conversation that he has,” someone is asking him to run for re-election. In the meantime, while he reconsiders a re-election bid, sources close to Perlmutter say he is “recharging.”


Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 2, 20175min3231

Good food and community spirit can’t help but attract politics, and that will be the case Saturday in East Denver at the fifth annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival at Parkfield Lake Park. The event that draws heavily from metro Denver’s immigrant community — as well as international food and entertainment fans — has also become a mainstay on the campaign trails.

The taste is from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Participating will be five local Ethiopian churches and 15 non-profit organizations with more than 50 small businesses and vendors this year, said (disclosure) my friend Nebiyu Asfaw.

The list of the politicians and public officials expected to show up was still growing Tuesday. Those who had confirmed, so far, Neb said, are:

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.
  • Democrats David Aarestad, Jason Crow and Levi Tillemann, who are vying to run against Coffman next year.
  • Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a Republican candidate for governor.
  • Former State Sen. Mike Johnston, a Democratic candidate for governor.
  • State Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat running for the open 7th Congressional District seat.
  • Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan.
  • Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz.
  • Denver Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore.
  • Aurora City Council candidate Naquetta Ricks.
  • Aurora City Council candidate Abel Laeke.

Neb pointed out that Ricks is Liberian-American, and Laeke is the first Ethiopian-American candidate for office in Aurora.

In my previous job I wrote about the African immigrant community’s steady by significant rise on the Colorado political scene. You can read that story here.

The non-profit Taste of Ethiopia is part of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Denver Days celebration to show off the diversity of the metro region.

The Taste of Ethiopia also has been recognized in the congressional record, courtesy of Coffman.

The politics, though, take a back seat to the Ethiopian food. There are more than 22 Ethiopian restaurants in the metro area, attesting to its popularity.

“Ethiopian cuisine is no longer just a hidden gem for foodies,” Asfaw said.

Besides the mainstays of Ethiopian cuisine, the festival will have three new featured dishes this year: the doro wott (chicken stew), beef tibs (Ethiopian barbecue) and shirro wott (a vegan favorite).

There is no admission charge (and very affordable food prices), which means it’s free to enjoy the music and such cultural performances as Ethiopian folk dancing and drumming and a fashion show.

“This year we have half a dozen vendors flying in from other states, to showcase rare and unique Ethiopian arts, crafts, jewelry and coffee beans,” Asfaw said.

Along with nine Ethiopian folk dancers from Washington D.C., the festival this year will highlight Ethiopian Jazz for the first time with the Shebelle Band.

Ethiopian-owned PCL Laboratory and Blue Nile Clinic will offer free health screenings.

The Taste also is putting on its first education forum from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Montebello Recreation Center’s community room near the festival. In partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, organizers will led a discussion on K-12 education in regular vs. charter schools with educators, parents and students.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 30, 20175min1430
Dominick Moreno
Dominick Moreno

On Wednesday morning, in a barrage of tweets, our president announced a discriminatory policy to ban transgender Americans from voluntarily serving in our military. I’m not sure what made-up problem Trump was pretending to resolve with this proposal, but it seems his greater goal is to distract from the failing health care debate in the Senate.

Here’s what we know. Secretary of Defense (James) Mattis was reviewing President Obama’s policies allowing our brave transgender brothers and sisters to serve openly in our military. He had not yet reported his findings or released his recommendations. Trump’s reaction came out of nowhere in the middle of the largest debate of his tenure which leads me to believe that our transgender service members are being scapegoated.

This policy is unacceptable. I commend the bipartisan condemnation from our Colorado delegation and military leaders who have said publicly that anyone who wants and is able to serve in the military should be able to do so. Equality for minority communities is not a partisan issue. It’s a human rights issue.

Growing up being both gay and Latino, I understand the consequences of people in charge putting forward blatantly discriminatory statements and policies. It’s nothing new to the LGBT community that our lives and well-being are often treated as nothing more than a political football. But why punish people who are willing to make such a critical sacrifice for our country? There’s nothing more patriotic than that sacrifice — and yet we see the commander-in-chief turning his back on those brave individuals.

This unexpected development leads me to believe that the timing was deliberate. Trump, since elected, has perfected the art of distracting the public when the heat is turned up. But this time his gaslighting has real consequences.

It’s past time the president, the House and the Senate talk about the real issues facing our men and women in uniform. Why aren’t we working together to address the mental health crisis our soldiers face when they return from combat? Why aren’t we putting forward policies to ensure our soldiers can get good-paying jobs to support their families when their service has ended? Why aren’t we discussing how to address the veteran homeless population or the extreme problems with VA hospitals?

Instead, the President has attempted to distract the American people from the real issues at hand and disguised discrimination as relieving a “financial” burden, even though the Department of Defense has a $600 billion budget, and estimated costs of serving our transgender members of the military is between $2.5 million to $8.5 million annually. At the high end, health care for transgender individuals who serve in uniform is less than 1.5 percent of the DOD budget. Hardly a cost-savings.

Coloradans are smarter than this. We know discrimination does not win any wars, both real and ideological, and that this move is merely a distraction from the healthcare debate that has very real consequences for every Coloradan.

I call on those in Congress to take up the issues that matter – there is too much work to be done to ensure we are providing services and opportunities to those who serve us so selflessly. This was never about the military or protecting those who serve. It was only about distracting and dividing us.

Let’s send a strong message that we stand with all of our military men and women no matter their gender identity, sexual orientation, race or religion.