Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 25, 201710min430

The gloves are off and the fur is flying in the Republican primary for Colorado's next state treasurer. In a series of emails sent to state GOP activists and donors Thursday, state Rep. Polly Lawrence accused her fellow state treasurer candidate state Rep. Justin Everett and his allies — "his minions" was the phrase she used — of spreading lies and mounting "traitorous attacks" on her, while an independent expenditure committee backing Everett blasted Lawrence for "lying to get re-elected, only to conspire with liberals and vote like Democrats."


Ernest LuningErnest LuningJuly 28, 20176min5013

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said Friday that Democrats are “finally” admitting they need to work across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions to the nation’s health care system, adding that the failure by GOP senators to overturn the Affordable Care Act won’t stop efforts to replace the legislation, known as Obamacare.

“It’s frustrating that now the recent repeal and replace vote is over we are starting to finally hear supporters of the Affordable Care Act make some of the exact points about the problems with the Affordable Care Act that they attacked Republicans for making over the last few months,” said Gardner, who was one of 13 Republican senators tasked with writing the Senate’s version of health care legislation behind closed doors earlier this year. “We are finally starting to hear those that refused to work with Republicans admit that costs are going up under this law and something needs to be done to address it.”

He added that he’s “worked so hard to replace this government takeover of our healthcare for one reason and one reason only – my constituents.” Among the problems he listed under the Obamacare were “skyrocketing premiums,” nearly 150,000 Colorado residents who didn’t buy insurance coverage facing IRS fines and just one or two insurers offering plans in a majority of the state’s counties.

“The vote last night can’t stop this effort,” Gardner said. “I’ve always urged Democrats to work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner to find solutions that drives down costs and stabilizes the insurance market. I’m not going to stop trying to fix this healthcare problem, the status quo is unacceptable.”

His Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, for months has been blasting Senate Republicans for drafting their legislation in secret and without input from Democrats. On Thursday, before the final cliffhanger vote that killed the last GOP bill up for debate this week, he excoriated Republicans for declining to hold a single committee hearing on the legislation before proceeding to votes on the floor.

“Talk about ‘read the bill,’ how about have a bill that’s written down on paper so we can read it? Where are my brethren in the Tea Party that wanted to read the other bill?” he said in a speech on the Senate floor, referring to complaints made by conservatives when Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. “There was a bill then. There had been a bill for a year and a half. There’s no bill! There’s no bill.”

A month ago, Bennet called in another speech on the Senate floor for Republicans to bring Democrats into their discussions on the legislation.

“I am all for working together in a bipartisan way to address the issues in our healthcare system — that go far beyond the Affordable Care Act — to make sure people in America do not have to continue to make choices other people all over the world are not having to make,” he said.

Senate Democrats have been imploring GOP leaders to open up the process and work across the aisle for months.

In a January letter, for instance, Bennet and a dozen other moderate Democrats wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and two powerful committee chairs, “We remain committed to improving the (Affordable Care Act), and we urge you to work with us now — to increase affordability for families, protect communities, help small businesses, and continue important protections for the most vulnerable.” In March, Bennet was among 42 Senate Democrats who asked House Republicans to open up the process. “Instead of supporting a fatally-flawed, incomplete, partisan bill, we hope you will take us up on our sincere offer to improve health care for all Americans,” they wrote.

Gardner voted with most of his fellow Republicans on every key vote this week, including casting votes to repeal major provisions of Obamacare without replacing them, to repeal the health care law and replace it with a new plan and to repeal the individual and employer mandates under Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood.

That last vote, on legislation called the “skinny” repeal, went down by a single vote after midnight Thursday night when Arizona Sen. John McCain joined Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski to scotch it. (The GOP holds a 52-48 majority in the Senate so could only afford to lose two votes, with Vice President Mike Pence on hand to cast a tie-breaking vote.)


Ernest LuningErnest LuningJuly 28, 20172min100

Legislation to overturn the Affordable Care Act might have died in the U.S. Senate overnight, but opponents of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare aren't letting up. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a former health care executive and a Democrat, is set to headline a Saturday morning rally in Denver that's one of more than 100 "Our Lives on the Line" events planned nationwide aimed at preserving health coverage for millions of Americans.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 20, 20178min111
John McCain
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington last week for the committee’s confirmation hearing for Navy Secretary nominee Richard Spencer. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Colorado’s congressional members reacted to the news of Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis with the support and deep respect for the statesman and American hero from neighboring Arizona.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver worked closely with McCain in 2013 as members of the Gang of Eight that passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill out of the Senate, only to see it languish and die in the House.

McCain, 80, has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. He has served in the U.S. Senate since 1987, and he twice ran for president. He was the GOP nominee in 2008 and is a decorated Vietnam war hero. After his bomber was shot down over Hanoi in 1967, he was tortured and spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war.

Early in his campaign, President Trump questioned whether McCain was a hero, because he was captured. McCain ultimately was not a Trump supporter and has been critical of Trump in regards to Russia, just last week predicting “more bombshells.” The president, ubiquitous on Twitter, didn’t tweet about McCain Wednesday. During an address about his Made in America Week at the White House, the president wished McCain well and spoke of how badly Republicans, with only a two-seat majority in the Senate, needs his vote.

“And I can tell you, we hope John McCain gets better very soon,” the president said. “Because we miss him. He is a crusty voice in Washington,” Trump said. “Plus, we need his vote.”

Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma and Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora spoke of McCain as a mentor and friend.

“This is tough because I’ve had a very personal connection to Senator McCain and I’ve always looked up to him for his courageous service during Vietnam,” said Coffman, himself a combat veteran of both Iraq wars. “I will keep him and his family in my thoughts and prayers as he undergoes treatment.”

Gardner said, “Not only is John McCain an American hero but he is also an amazing friend, father, husband, and son. I will be thinking of him every day as he fights this latest battle, and I look forward to seeing him soon in a place where he has done tremendous things for his country and his constituents – the United States Senate.”

Former state lawmaker Shawn Mitchell, a staunch conservative from Broomfield who served 14 years in the General Assembly, didn’t mince his negative words in the wake of the news.

“Am I bad I don’t feel sad about McCain’s brain cancer?” Mitchell wrote on Facebook Wednesday night. “I don’t wish him a short or painful life. He’s had a long one. I just think his constructive, helpful life ended long ago. He is a smug, self righteous condemnor of political opponents. No, only Republican political opponents. He is always respectful to Democrats.”

“I won’t speak ill of the dead for a respectable time. But for now, he’s just a powerful enemy who is not supposed to be an enemy.”

Mike Littwin, a columnist for the Colorado Independent and the senior statesman of Colorado journalism, replied to Mitchell. “Imagine being the person who feels the need to write this post.”

In a subsequent post Mitchell said he won’t be sad when McCain’s gone.

Independent political consultant Eric Sondermann asked Mitchell to tone down the toxicity for “empathy, civility and humanity.”

“You’re better than this post, Shawn,” Sondermann began.

Last month Mitchell told Colorado Politics he was kidding about a post in which he talked about beheading journalists and Trump administration leakers.