Paula NoonanPaula NoonanMay 31, 20175min456

Both “sides” in the arguments over oil and gas development say the other is “taking advantage” of the explosions in Firestone and Mead. This should not be a time for sides. This should be a time for serious analysis. It can also provide an opening that should, for the sake of everyone in the state, cut through sides to allow common sense to function. Both accidents caused violent fire and explosions leading to death and serious injuries in non-industrial environments. The Mead accident occurred 1,000 feet from other buildings, according to reports. The Firestone explosion blew up a house as a pipe leaked gas that followed French drains into the Martinez’s basement.

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 23, 20176min275

Greg Brophy has racked up plenty of political mileage in his 50 years. The Republican served two sessions in the state House starting in January 2003 before moving up to the Senate, where for nearly 10 years he represented an immense swath of Colorado’s eastern plains. He also made a brief run for governor in 2014. Then, it was off to the nation’s capital for a stint as U.S. Rep. Ken Buck’s chief of staff. Now, Brophy’s back in Colorado, where he resides in the Denver area with wife Angela and works in public affairs. Always a farmer (he holds an ag science degree from CSU in Fort Collins), he still helps run the family farm back in his hometown, Wray. The prep wrestler-turned-avid bicyclist won friends across the aisle for his two-wheel obsession and may well have been one of the most physically fit Coloradans ever to take a seat in the legislature. And though his grappling days are long past, Brophy is known for being as scrappy off the mat as he was on it back in high school.

Catch us up on your family, and tell us about your new gig.

The most important family news is that Angela and I are grandparents!  Our youngest is a freshman in high school, so we will be empty nesters before too long.

I took a position with Michael Best Strategies as the V.P. of Western States.  MIchael Best is a public affairs company with offices in D.C., Wisconsin, Colorado, Illinois, Texas and Utah.  The firm has excellent relationships with the Trump Administration, Congress and the Senate, with a powerhouse in Colorado including Jeff Thormodsgaard, myself, Katie Wolf, Jenise May, and Alex Hayes. 

You won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2002 as easily one of the most conservative members of the General Assembly. Have you evolved in any way philosophically? 

I’m slightly more libertarian now than I was, a lot more cynical, and much, much, much more cognizant of the need to maintain the majority (something we all took for granted in 2004 to our detriment).

What did you learn as a senior congressional staffer during your time in D.C.? Any eye-openers?

It’s dysfunctional, and it’s truly a swamp.  Under (former House Speaker John) Boehner, PAC contributions were used to enforce party discipline. (Current House Speaker Paul) Ryan is changing that, thank goodness.  I became a much bigger fan and advocate for returning power to the states; it’s the only way to really “drain the swamp.”

It seems the state’s transportation grid is always in crisis, yet the legislature never comes up with a lasting solution. Everybody says this year is different — but will it be?

Probably not.

It is true we need more money.  It is also true that we waste entirely too much money on studies and environmental mitigation.  My county commissioner friends swear they can build roads for way less than half. That’s directly related to red tape and regulation. A grand bargain would address both and make both sides uncomfortable. In my opinion, that takes the kind of leadership that Gov. Owens brought. We haven’t had that kind of leadership since he left. 

What was your proudest achievement — and what was your biggest disappointment — during your dozen years in the General Assembly?

Proudest: Winning the argument on gun control even though we lost the vote. Plus, I led the way to modernizing trucking laws in Colorado even though the bill was taken away by the majority party. Biggest disappointment: never being a chairman.

You used to host an annual shooting event out at your farm and invited a wide swath of Colorado’s political firmament. Who was the most unlikely participant ever to show up?

Well, this is easy, (former New York City Mayor Michael) Bloomberg’s lobbyist for gun control came and shot a lot of watermelons. It’s interesting to note that during the 2012 Pedal the Plains, Gov. Hickenlooper was in my house in Wray practically begging for an invitation to shoot the following year — a mere three months before introducing the (Democrats’) gun-control legislation. 

How much mileage do you put in on your bike these days? 

Last weekend was spectacular — 70 miles!  My ideal ride is four hours and close to 50 miles in the summer.

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 22, 20173min277

We admit it: Hick watching is addictive. Sure, we all pretend we’re so over the incessant national chatter about Gov. John Hickenlooper’s vice presidential and even presidential potential. Yet, we no sooner wax weary of the gossip and speculation — than more gossip, speculation and even, sometimes, bona fide insights pop up in the news and restart the guessing game.

Hey, don’t blame us; it’s all those other media who just can’t seem to let it go. It’s savvy beltway insiders like The Hill; it’s national media heavyweights like the Washington Post. Recently, it was even the Trump administration that started tongues wagging anew after the New York Post reported that the White House was scouring the backgrounds of its perceived, top rivals in Democratic ranks, including Hickenlooper.

This week, it was the governor himself on CNN, as picked up by Fox31 Denver and posted to its website:

Gov. John Hickenlooper refused to rule out Monday a presidential run in 2020, saying “there’s going to be a lot of things on the table.”

“The key in the next couple of years is to figure out, with all the turmoil going on, how do we make sure we keep our focus to move the country forward, and figure out where are those lines that should not be crossed,” Hickenlooper said.

You say you’re not surprised? That it’s more of the same from the guv, who seems to be forever wavering on the subject? Fair enough. And, really, it’s hard not to be weary of all the speculation and reading of tea leaves and what not. Until next time.

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 15, 20173min357

Gov. John Hickenlooper is being taken so seriously as a potential contender for the 2020 presidential race that the Trump administration is said to be running a deep scan on him and three other prominent Democrats. Actually, “scour” is the word used by the New York Post in its story the other day attributed to “two sources close to the administration.”

According to the Post’s account, Trump strategy chief Steve Bannon is having consultants “scour the backgrounds” of Hickenlooper, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, another billionaire with political aspirations.

While the other three are seen as hard-charging and outspoken, the Post observes:

Hickenlooper, who founded a brewery before becoming governor of the Western swing state, is seen as a less-combative rising star, the sources said.

Not that the name-drop in White House circles should come as a surprise to the governor or most Coloradans, who have grown accustomed in recent years to hearing Hick’s brand floated for its vice-presidential as well as presidential potential.

Really, though, what does the Trump administration expect to dig up? The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning, who first alerted us to the New York Post’s report, weighed in with some good perspective Tuesday:

Bannon’s minions could save a lot of legwork by ordering a copy of the governor’s candid — some would say bracingly refreshing — memoir, “The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics,” co-written with former speechwriter Maximillian Potter and published last spring. (Spoiler: the title refers to a favorite Hickenlooper joke, and the answer is “giddyup.”) A highlighter will come in handy as Hickenlooper recounts marital woes, his experiences smoking pot and the nude selfie he once took in a bathtub. And then there was the time he took his mother to see the X-rated movie “Deep Throat.”

Suffice it to say that the Trump team will be able to find plenty of oppo research about Hickenlooper — maybe even the Running of the Pigs and the fancy suits he tried on when he was running for mayor — but they might also find that it isn’t any secret.