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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 3, 201810min677

The battle is heating up over how Colorado draws its legislative and congressional boundaries. After failing to knock out a pair of proposed redistricting and reapportionment ballot measures in court, a rough coalition of mostly liberal and good-government groups filed competing ballot measures in late December and is vowing to take the choice before voters this fall — potentially a case of, if you can't beat 'em in court, join 'em on the ballot.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 7, 20174min869

Behind every millionaire who aims to leave his mark on politics is a skilled political operative with the seasoning and savvy needed to make things happen. Hence, dialysis giant DaVita’s CEO, Kent Thiry, who is newly minted chairman of the nonpartisan redistricting reform coalition Fair Districts Colorado, can lean on Alan Philp.

The veteran Republican utility player — who among his many callings has been regional political director for the Republican National Committee and for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign; deputy chief of staff to former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, and policy director to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — has been around the block a time or two.

Philp, a longtime consultant, was in on the ground floor of Fair Districts when it started in 2015 and, in an emailed update to prospective supporters and donors last week, said, “We are moving into a new phase of this project.” The letter elaborates:

Our measures are working through the Title Board, and in January or February we expect to start the expensive process of collecting signatures.  Davita CEO Kent Thiry recently came on board as Chairman of the effort.

The reform proposal Fair Districts aims to petition onto the statewide ballot …

… will make Colorado a model for reform nationally:  a balanced commission that includes independents, a supermajority requirement to pass maps, transparency, nonpartisan staff drawn maps, neutral criteria for map-drawing (including drawing competitive districts, where possible).  If you want to see the text of the measures (I would read #67 and #69), see our press releases, learn more, or link to articles about the effort, please go to www.fairdistrictscolorado.org.

There’s also the ask, of course:

Please contribute and/or help identify potential contributors.  We can accept unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations, etc.  This will be a multi-million dollar effort.  To date, we’ve been able to operate on a very modest budget, since most of our team members are unpaid.  But now legal costs will mount, as we work through Title Board and court challenges.  Our team needs to raise $200,000 in the next 45 days.

(Contributions can be made online via the aforementioned website or by a check in the mail to: Fair Districts Colorado, P.O. Box 19730, Denver, CO 80219.)

And while Philp hails from the Republican side of the fence, Fair Districts points to its bipartisan headliners: not just the Republican Owens but Democratic former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, as well. There’s also Republican former Colorado Speaker of the House Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch as well as former Democratic Speaker Pro Tem Kathleen Curry of Gunnison.

Herding cats? Whatever the challenges in building and maintaining the coalition, Philp is no doubt familiar with the terrain.

 


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 25, 201710min606

Some say nothing really prepares you for elective office, but Kevin Van Winkle might disagree. The youthful, second-term lawmaker, who represents Douglas County’s District 43 in the Colorado House of Representatives, served for years as a legislative staffer before his election in 2014. Van Winkle, a Highlands Ranch Republican, learned a lot from his time working behind the scenes with legislators — and is now putting his experience to use serving an area of DougCo where was born and raised, in a district previously held by former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty. And Van Winkle certainly seems to know his way around. In addition to his regular committee work at the Capitol, he sits on the Legislative Board of Ethics, the board of the Colorado Channel and the Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicJanuary 27, 20176min859

It's two and half weeks into the Colorado legislative session and lawmakers have introduced six bills concerning the state’s legal weed, which was legalized in the state five years ago. It’s a sign of how fast legalization tends to happen and how long it takes to work out the commercial and regulatory details — and that was before Alabama’s anti-pot Sen. Jeff Sessions was nominated for U.S. attorney general. Bills this year will draw public attention and make headlines, as in years past, but mostly they’ve become a routine part of life under the Gold Dome.