POLITICAL STRATEGY 2.0: Is Jared Polis the next Koch brothers?

There is a growing trend in politics to demonize major sources of funding.  The thinking being that if you can discredit the source of the money, then the project benefiting from it loses credibility by association. 

Certain associations come to mind anytime people hear the Koch brothers are behind something.  Granted, those associations largely fall along partisan lines, but what happens when they don’t?  Rep. Jared Polis is about to find out.

Since Polis is single handedly driving forward two ballot initiatives to ban fracking, he has found himself with a target on his back.  Messaging from pro-fracking groups is just as much directed at shaming Polis as it is at extolling the benefits of responsible energy development.

Take, for example, a recent letter from the pro-energy group Vital for Colorado asking Polis to withdraw his ballot initiatives.  The letter is signed by dozens of high profile business and political organizations, such as the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Nucor Corporation.  In it, they write:

Every sector in our economy is intertwined.  An attack on the oil and gas industry is an attack on Colorado because all Coloradans benefit from having a prosperous energy economy.

Please reconsider your approach to this debate and let the democratic process, both at the Capitol and at the ballot box, serve its purpose free from interference of a heavy hand.

This is the first direct appeal these groups have made to Polis asking that he effectively stand down.  It piles onto the weeks of hammering from other groups that have spread their focus to include demonizing Polis on top of beating his initiatives.  The extent to which this hammering is bipartisan is what sets it apart from the kinds of attacks the Koch brothers have to endure.

How long before all of Colorado, not just the GOP, starts to see Polis as the bad guy that he is?  And by extension, how much will his new reputation hurt his pet projects?


SOMETHING WE SAID? Colorado Exchange CEO to Leave for Cigna

The Denver Post recently broke the news that CEO of the Colorado Health Exchange, Patty Fontneau, would be leaving for greener pastures at Cigna as the president of Private Business Exchange in mid-August.

We admit that we have given Patty Fontneau a hard time here.  Unfortunately, she’s the head of the ridiculous Colorado Health Exchange, which sorely lacking in transparency to taxpayers.  Thems the breaks when you’re a leader.

Calling her a lightning rod, The Denver Post noted:

Part of the criticism Fontneau and the exchange has faced stemmed from personnel issues, including Fontneau’s $190,000 salary and 2.5 percent raise this year. Her pay and that of other exchange officials is higher than counterparts at three similar state exchanges.

Oh, and let’s not forget her bonus. So get bonus, check.  Get raise, check.  Realize this place is still sinking faster than the titanic, check. Deny audit, check.

Fontneau told The Denver Post that the exchange was in such a great place now, but the truth is that we have no idea since she won’t allow an audit.  By the way, Patty, Cigna will require audits of your division.  We think it’s a regulatory thing.  Hope you won’t mind.


UH OH: Democrats Panicking About State Leg Races

While this week’s Public Policy Polling survey showed the governor and senate races are statistically tied, we noted that it carried even worse news for Democrats in down ticket races statewide.  The poll shows Dems down 7 points in races for the state legislature – a prospect that has their leadership hitting the panic button. 

According to PPP:

When asked about who they would vote for in an election for state legislature 45% of voters responded they would vote for a generic Republican compared to only 38% who would vote for a Democrat.

The House Majority Project, the Democrat’s 527 arm, is doubling its fundraising efforts in light of the latest polling.   They painfully lost the majority by one seat in 2010, and their biggest fear is watching that happen all over again.


HEDGING? Polis Initiatives Floundering

Even though Colorado has a ridiculously low threshold for constitutional ballot initiatives, it may be getting harder than people think for measures to qualify.  As Rep. Jared Polis struggles to gather signatures for his fracking ban Initiatives 88 and 89, insiders are buzzing that he might actually fall short.

Just last week the Denver Business Journal’s Cathy Proctor reported that the Polis initiatives had only collected 65,000 signatures each.  They need 86,105 valid signatures by August 4th, and they’ll need to collect well over that to allow for cushion as many signatures will be disqualified.

Conventional political wisdom has always dictated that 120,000 signatures is a comfortable number, but recently that number has grown.  Backers of the ill-fated Amendment 66 turned in over 160,000 signatures and barely made the ballot – with 46 percent of their signatures invalidated.

It’s entirely possible that Amendment 66 proponents were forging signatures and doing sloppy work.  But, what if Coloradans are just getting sick of signing petitions and increasingly giving false information or just writing illegibly out of frustration?

If the latter is the case, then Polis and his associates are far behind where they need to be, which explains his vague comment when asked by Fox 31’s Eli Stokols if he was prepared to spend whatever it takes to get his initiatives on the ballot.  Polis responded: “If the people of Colorado want them on the ballot, they’ll be on the ballot.”

Sounds like hedging to us.


EXPECTING VISITORS? Polis Cleans Up Wikipedia Page

It would seem embattled Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is doing some renovations on his Wikipedia page, according to @congressedits, a bot that tweets anonymous Wikipedia edits that are made from IP addresses in the US Congress.

The big question is – does this mean he is preparing for an announcement, and, if so, what would that announcement be?  Is it that Rep. Nancy Pelosi finally will reward his bad behavior by giving him the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee?  Or, will Polis, who has few friends left in his own party after the bungled fracking ban ballot initiatives negotiations, give the Democratic Party the middle finger and switch to an Independent?

We’ll walk you through the changes, and you decide.  Here they are:

1) Changed his occupation from Businessman to Politician (we suppose that is more accurate these days)

2) Switched the order of his occupations from “entrepreneur, philanthropist, and politician” to “politician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist” (see above)

3) Changed the description of how BlueMountainArts.com was founded from “Polis along with his parents” to “Schutz (that’s his mom), with help from Polis”.

4) Gave additional details on the transaction when Blue Mountain sold, changed from “which he sold to Excite@Home three years later in a deal worth $780 million” to “Schutz sold bluemountain.com to Excite@Home in 1999 for $430 million in stock and $350 million in cash”

5) Added Republicans creds: “In February 1998, Polis founded ProFlowers, an online florist, in La Jolla, California. In December of that year, former Reagan economist Dr. Arthur Laffer began advising Polis and joined ProFlowers as a Director. ProFlowers, later renamed Provide Commerce, Inc., went public on NASDAQ as PRVD on December 17, 2003. In 2005, Provide Commerce was acquired by media conglomerate Liberty Media Corporation for $477 million.”

Noting the hire of Art Laffer, a Republican, and his sale to Liberty Media, run by Republicans, might seem odd for someone about to step into leadership at DCCC.  But, maybe not.  Polis is known to surprise.  And, maybe this all means nothing.  But, we usually don’t deep clean our house unless we’re expecting visitors.


BAGGAGE: A Vote For Udall Is A Vote For Harry Reid, WaPo Writes

“If you win, I win.”

The Washington Post has an interesting article today, which shouldn’t bring too much joy to Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign (then again, not much is nowadays).  In the article The WaPo basically states if either Colorado or Iowa goes Republican, Sen. Harry Reid’s reign as the leader of the Senate is essentially over.  Yep, you can add “a vote for Udall is a vote for Harry Reid” to the already-known “a vote for Udall is a vote for Obama.”

Now remember, Republicans thought they had a clear path to the six Senate seats needed for a victory even without these states… it’s hard to see how the Democrats could hold the Senate if they lose either — and surely if they lose both — Iowa and Colorado. [the Peak’s emphasis]

Even if Udall hadn’t spent the last six years doing essentially nothing for Coloradans, he’d still have a hard time winning reelection when all signs point to him being basically a clone of Harry Reid and Obama.  (Maybe clone isn’t the right word… lovechild?)

To boot, the liberal WaPo has also taken notice of how strong of an opponent Udall has in Rep. Cory Gardner:

Colorado Republicans got a high-quality candidate when Garner not only decided to run but cleared out other Republican opposition. He’s been on the offensive — battering Udall on Obamacare and on the Keystone XL Pipeline. [the Peak’s emphasis]

We’re not exactly sure who “Garner” is, but surely the WaPo will learn how to spell GarDner’s name when he goes from being one of 435, to just one of 100.

The fact that Udall and his liberal outside groups have already tossed millions of dollars against Gardner trying to tear him down, and yet, the view from a liberal paper is that Gardner is still on the offensive, has got to be a gut punch to them.  Udall’s already pretty much thrown the kitchen sink at Gardner, and it hasn’t been enough.  With Udall only having blanks left to fire, we are beginning to wonder when the outside money will begin to dry up.  We know liberals love to spend other people’s money, but when it comes to their own, they can be quite stingy; and, a lost cause is a lost cause.

As for Gardner, The WaPo lays out what he needs to do to take this lead through election day:

…both Republicans will need to keep on the offensive, rebut the onslaught of attack ads coming their way and present a responsible, positive set of policies they’d be willing to support. If they do, one or both of them are likely to win (both incumbents are well below 50 percent). And with that will go the Democratic majority. [the Peak’s emphasis]

Say it with us PeakNation™: “and with that will go the Democratic majority.”


BITTER: Ousted State Senator John Morse Launched Committee to Restrict Recalls

The successful effort to recall Democratic Senate President John Morse was one of the more satisfying outcomes of 2013.  Imagine our entertainment when we stumbled across a new issue committee called “Citizens for a Stable Colorado”.  Stable how, you ask?  By keeping the same arrogant, not-accountable-to-constituents legislators in office. Here’s the purpose of the organization:

“To educate Colorado voters on the instability caused by easing recall elections and to oppose any ballot initiatives that try to ease the requirements for recall elections”

Who would stand up such an organization?  Turns out the organization was filed in April 2014 by Tyler Chaffee at Strategies 360, who helped pass the “Better Denver” bond as well as helping out those poor union folk, like the SEIU.  The other person listed as an agent is none other than “John@CPAMorse.com”.  Of course, CPAMorse.com takes us right to John Morse’s mug.

Morse, perhaps feeling a little sensitive after being removed from office by his constituents after not listening to them his disastrous gun grab, set this committee up to fight Initiative 76, which would have defined who could be recalled and how.  There were just two beneficiaries of this committee – Morse ($3850) and Marc Grueskin’s firm Rechtkornfeld, PC ($10,812).  The Colorado Forum Fund also received a donation of $437 when the account was terminated in July.

Who donated to the committee?

  • Unions and allies: American Federation of Teachers, Colorado Education Association, Colorado Association of School Executives
  • Left-wing groups: Colorado Bar Association, One Colorado (mission creep anyone?), Conservation Colorado (…because it’s concerned about mail in ballots causing pollution…?)
  • Gang of Four: Pat Stryker

Gosh, what interest could these groups have in shutting down recall efforts?  Could it be that these groups are trying to maintain their stranglehold on Colorado?  Or, is it just that John Morse is super bitter?  Since the ballot initiative was struck down by the Colorado Supreme Court on a technicality, Colorado may never know.

But, we will laugh about the fact that Morse set up a committee from which only he and Grueskin benefited that so obviously was driven by Morse’s bitterness.


LIBERAL PANIC: Dem Poll Finds Gov and Sen Races Statistically Tied

The stuff of Colorado Dems’ nightmares

Time to hit the panic button Colorado Lefties, your beloved liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling just released a new poll that has both the Colorado Gubernatorial and Senatorial races as statistically tied.  At an identical 44%-43% Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall are tied with their opponents, former Rep. Bob Beauprez and Rep. Cory Gardner, respectively.

Those week-old daydreams of Pina coladas, and warm breezes, and Marist Polls are completely vanquished now.  Welcome to the days of pain and agony, where you wake up each morning to once again attempt the Sisyphean task of trying to convince middle-of-the-road Colorado electorate your candidates didn’t go off on a drunken, liberal binge their entire past terms.

For those of you specializing in the Hick race, please resist the urge and not punch yourself in the face as Hickenlooper goes off-script yet again to try and explain— unsuccessfully— how he doesn’t want to be the next Michael Bloomberg, who condescendingly tells all Coloradans he knows how they can better live their lives than they do themselves (“You guys should really start with some roads, roads make life a lot easier”).  Please put the sharp objects down as Hickenlooper carelessly tosses you under the bus yet again just so he feels the audience he is talking to at that time loves him just a bit more.  Because, maybe, just maybe, tonight will finally be the night Hickenlooper decides to set the beer down and actually focus on winning a race.

Who are we kidding?  All his most trusted advisers saw the writing on the wall long ago, and have their exit strategies already planned out.

As for you Udallians (Udallites?)… HA!  Your boss voted 99% of the time with a President who is getting just a 39% approval rating by Coloradans in a liberal poll.  Tack on the fact that his legislative record is radioactively toxic (like, seriously, put on a hazmat suit before you go anywhere near it), and that he’d be unable to stake out a moderate Colorado position even if it smacked the hiking boots off of him, he’s pretty much dead man walking at this point.  All we can say is: enjoy the nice weather and be sure to tell all your liberal friends we’re all bat-shit crazy out here once you flee back to your liberal enclaves on either coast when this race is over.

As for us Coloradans who are here because there’s no other place we’d rather be, things are looking up.  On the generic ballot test Republicans are +7.  We lead by no less than eight points on all the other state-wide, down-ticket races (35-27, Wayne Williams over Joe Neguse; 43-33 Walker Stapleton over Betsy Markey; 38-29, Cynthia Coffman over Don Quick).  Perhaps it’s time for Pols to update its “Big Line,” or, at least put its money where its mouth is and actual take bets on their ridiculous odds.  We could use a new massage chair to relax in after the Democratic beat down that is coming this November.  These next few months should be fun.


SINKING SHIP: Oil And Gas Flee From Udall

“Y U No Like Me?”

Between eco-extremist Tom Steyer’s personal crusade against the Keystone XL pipeline and far-left liberal Rep. Jared Polis’ quest to ban fracking, the Colorado oil and gas industry has quickly become a focal point for this election cycle.  For the average Coloradan, supporting our domestic oil and gas industry is a no-brainer.  A study from the Leeds School of Business at CU estimates a fracking ban would hurt Colorado’s economy to the tune of $12 billion, while getting rid of 93,000 good-paying, Colorado jobs.  It goes without saying, it’s vital Colorado gets it right when it comes to oil and gas.  With this election cycle being so important for them, it’s no surprise that when it comes to who the Colorado oil and gas industry backs in our Senate race, it definitely isn’t Sen. Mark Udall.

In an illuminating piece by The Wall Street Journal, Amy Harder shows how quickly the oil and gas industry abandoned Udall after he climbed into bed with Steyer:

After initially supporting incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.), through the first quarter of this year, oil and natural gas companies have since overwhelmingly supported his challenger, Rep.Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), over Mr. Udall.

… Since Mr. Gardner entered the Senate race, the oil and gas industry has been pouring money into Mr. Gardner’s campaign. Between the first and second quarters, the industry gave $223,600 to Mr. Gardner and just $41,460 to Mr. Udall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Harder goes on to report that two of the biggest oil and gas companies in Colorado, Noble Energy and Anadarko Petroleum, overwhelmingly support Gardner over Udall.  This is hardly a surprise as Udall’s constant ‘no’ votes on the Keystone XL pipeline, coupled with his refusal to take a definite stance on Polis’ fracking bans until just recently, shows he is not a friend to Colorado’s energy sector, which has brought so many good paying jobs to Colorado.  Unlike Udall, not everyone is rich enough to live in the reality-absent, utopian-bubble that is Boulder.  Udall’s ability to favor far-left, environmental causes no matter the costs to Colorado’s economy is a luxury the average Coloradan can’t afford.

So far, the Colorado oil and gas industry has done a magnificent job working with the legislature to craft commonsense reforms and regulations; it’s a shame that despite this hard-earned record, Udall still looks at them with weary eyes.  Gardner better represents the moderate ways of Colorado, where we can find a sensible balance between enjoying nature while also fostering a robust economy.  Udall’s reluctance to sign on to this balance just demonstrates how much he is better suited to go live in a remote, off-the-grid, mountain cabin, than represent us pragmatic Coloradans in Washington D.C.  Fortunately for him, come November, he can do just such a thing.


Peak Feed: Thank Mike Coffman for Standing Up for Veterans

A few weeks ago, a deplorable ad was published by a left-wing astroturf group that suggested Andrew Romanoff would be better for veterans than Republican Congressman Mike Coffman (a veteran).  Yes, we’re still laughing. Today, Concerned Veterans for America published its own ad that gives the real story of Coffman’s commitment to veterans.  As they said in a press release accompanying the ad:

Rep. Coffman not only fought for our country during his time in the military—he also continued to fight for the freedoms America was founded on when he was elected to Congress. He worked to improve the lives of his fellow veterans by pushing and co-sponsoring the Veterans Access to Care Act (H.R. 4810) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act (H.R. 4031), which CVA strongly supports. While President Obama and the U.S. Senate acted as bystanders and did nothing to fix the VA’s problems, veterans died waiting for care at VA facilities. Rep. Coffman recognized the problems though, and took immediate, decisive action.

“Concerned Veterans for America wants to thank Congressman Coffman for his service to his country both as a veteran and as a veterans advocate during his time in the House of Representatives,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of CVA. [the Peak's emphasis]

Watch the ad here:

From the ad:

The VA is failing Colorado’s veterans, but Congressman Mike Coffman, a veteran himself, is fighting everyday to improve the lives of his fellow veterans and fix the VA. Coffman serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and fought to pass legislation that would give Colorado veterans better access to healthcare and hold bad managers accountable at the VA. Call Mike Coffman. Thank him for standing up for his fellow Colorado veterans.

How about a 9News Truth Test on this one?

© 2011-2013 Colorado Peak Politics