LOVE IT: Statesman Story Highlights Dem Infighting, Carroll’s Weak Leadership

Typically Democrats are a lot better than Republicans at closing ranks and whipping votes.  Republicans tend to be more independent thinkers and less afraid of bucking party leadership, whereas Democrats tend to be more okay with sacrificing their principals for the “greater good” (i.e. the party line).  The Democrat infighting that occurred during the 2014 legislative session, however, completely bucked that trend.  The Colorado Statesman explains:

Democrats continued to squirm over bad blood within their political family after several lawmakers on the left battled it out over controversial bills.

While the mainstream media attributes the Democrats’ infighting to their razor thin one-seat majority in the state Senate, that is only part of the story.  While Senate President Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) is concerned with keeping her party in power, individual members were clearly more interested in grandstanding and making headlines.

But why?

It’s because Carroll has done nothing to breed loyalty among her own caucus or inspire them to believe she has what it takes to retain control of the Senate.  The handful of Senate Democrats worried about losing their seats would have behaved better and listened to Carroll if they thought she was strong enough to help them achieve victory in the fall.

The infighting that marred Democrats going into the election is more about Carroll’s poor leadership skills than anything else.


WINNERS: Who Came Out Ahead in The 2014 Legislative Session

After the disaster for all of Colorado that was the 2013 legislative session, the fact alone we didn’t repeat it makes us all some of the biggest winners of this session.  But fear not PeakNation™, we aren’t lowering our standards here at The Peak.  For example, if someone made our winners list, don’t be surprised if they win a Nobel prize next year, or end world hunger.

Without further ado, our winner’s list:

Colorado citizens – With the recalls leaving the Democrats with a one seat majority in the Senate, the people of this great state were spared from several pieces of unnecessary legislation this year.  One of the untold stories of the session is the Senate being a graveyard for overreaching House bills.

Sens. Mary Hodge and Lois Tochtrop -  This dynamic duo were a commonsense backstop when it came to attacks from the far left on Colorado’s $29 billion oil and gas industry.  Their willingness to stand up to those in their own party will allow Colorado’s economy to continue to grow.

Sen. Steve King – The Grand Junction Senator took the Hickenlooper Administration head on to get funding for the state’s firefighting air fleet.  This was no small task and we congratulate him for accomplishing it.

Kristen Wyatt, AP – Rarely have we seen someone who has the perfect summary for every legislative day.  AP’s Kristen Wyatt showed quite the range by being able to capture the mood each day in another perfect gif.  If you haven’t been paying attention PeakNation™, you’ve been missing out.  Her final one for the session is here.

Trial Lawyers – Despite a sort of non-campaign to show the ills of the construction defect legislation, nothing was accomplished this session to alleviate this huge issue, which is driving up the cost of housing. We can’t imagine why – perhaps it’s because Senate President Morgan Carroll is a trial lawyer.

Bill Cadman – The veteran lawmaker has successfully managed the Senate Republican caucus through two contentious legislative sessions and has managed to bridge the partisan divide when necessary. Heck, Lynn Bartels called him a statesman earlier this year.  With increased fundraising and improved messaging efforts, he has laid the groundwork for a successful November.

Rep. Libby Szabo – Szabo has been one of, if not the, largest proponent of passing Jessica’s Law here in Colorado.  While the version that was passed this year falls short on many levels, we applaud her stick-to-it-iveness in cracking down on child predators…and for forcing Democrats’ hand on the subject.

The Capitol (yes, the building) – The Colorado State Capitol got a much-needed facelift with a new gold dome.  It’s lovely.  Have a gander.

Rep. Jared Polis – With Hickenlooper still not knowing how to lead, a vacuum of who was the head of the Colorado Democratic party was created.  In stepped Jared Polis.  Now, not only can Polis claim to be a quirky Democratic money man who happened to win buy himself a Congressional seat, but his influence over the Colorado Democratic party has forced other Dems to meet him where he’s at: the far left.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton – This year, Republicans rarely got what they wanted out of the state legislature.  That is, most Republicans. Every bill Stapleton advocated for passed with bipartisan support, and the one bill he advocated against was killed because he drummed up enough public opposition.

And, there you have it, PeakNation, did we forget anyone?  Agree?  Disagree?  Until next year, we adjourn this post sine die.


SINE DIE: Losers of the 2014 Legislative Session (Winners Next!)

It’s that time again, PeakNation™.  The legislature is finally out of session.  We think.  Until special session.  Welcome to the fourth annual Colorado Peak Politics legislative awards where we honor the winners and shame the losers.

This year wasn’t as rancorous as last year – Democrats were on their best behavior since it’s an election year.  As usual, Democrats, who control the Colorado House, the Colorado Senate and the Governor’s Mansion, promised Coloradans the world and delivered very little.

Without further ado, we bring you, first, the Losers of the 2014 Legislative Session.  There were many.

Democratic leadership gone wild – From Senate President Morgan Carroll storming off her perch to whip votes in the middle of a vote to Speaker Mark Ferrandino throwing a temper tantrum about putting State Treasurer Walker Stapleton on the House floor, this year’s Democratic leadership has proved that nothing is too low for them.  But, that’s not all.  Several Democratic initiatives not only fizzled but blew back in their faces (see: radical abortion bill and equal pay measure).

Colorado’s women – Speaking of the equal pay measure….  This was, perhaps, one of Democrats’ biggest flops of the session.  In an attempt to gin up the so-called “war on women”, Democrats pushed an equal pay resolution, hoping to highlight Republicans’ aversion to government-controlled pay.  The only problem?  As it turns out, Republican politicians pay their ladies better than Democrats, leading to cries of hypocrisy that extended all the way up to fragile U.S. Senator Mark Udall.

Colorado’s first-time homebuyers – We have a problem here in Colorado – a lack of cheap housing near fun stuff. Part of the problem is that trial lawyers have run amok raking in huge profits with construction defects.  This was going to be the legislature that addressed that.  We snickered knowing Morgan Carroll’s undying allegiance to trial lawyers.  Turns out we were right.  Sorry.

Sen. Andy Kerr – When you are a vulnerable incumbent, typically you try not to make any waves.  Kerr has managed to do the opposite.  From his embarrassing fumble on an election year abortion bill to two years of bizarre votes against his district, he’s in for a rough re-election campaign.

John Morse – You know why.

Bald Eagles – One of the negative affects of wind energy is the negative impact it has on birds, specifically bald eagles (um, our national bird). Republican Rep. Libby Szabo introduced a resolution to protect bald eagles from wind turbines.  It failed on party line vote.  It would seem that devotion to nature extends only so far as it lines the pockets of green energy investors.

Alan Salazar – Oh, poor Alan.  He’s on this list because he harassed and marginalized Sen. Steve King’s plan for an air fleet to fight forest fires. And told the media that there was no way that King’s plan would happen.  Until it basically did.  Sorry, Alan.  This wasn’t your year.

Stay tuned for the Winners of the 2014 Legislative Session, which can be found here.


PeakFeed: Democrat Senate President Suffers from End of Session Insanity

The end of session is tough on everyone.  But, it would appear that liberal Senate President Morgan Carroll is letting the pressure get to her.  Yesterday, she started making up rules as she went along.  First, H.B.14-1009, which would have changed the wildfire mitigation income tax deduction to the wildfire mitigation income tax credit, failed.

Two Democratic senators, Sens. Lois Tochtrop and Cheri Jahn voted no.  That’s when things got…awkward.  Carroll conferred with Boulder Sen. Rollie Heath and returned to her perch with an amendment to H.B. 14-1009 that would have laid over the bill until later in the day.  Yes, the same bill that was just killed. Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman called her out on this…odd…political maneuver.  Just watch:

From the video:

Cadman: “Members, welcome to the Senate where there’s no settled questions.  We’re asking that a bill be laid over, that we just killed, frankly. I would ask for a no vote.  If you voted against 1009, you should not support this motion.  This is not just procedural.”

Carroll: “Umm, this is a procedural question in the form of committee of the whole amendment 1.  The question is the adoption of the committee of the whole amendment 1.  Are there any no votes?”

Cadman: “Well, I guess in that sense all things here are procedural, that’s what we do.  The reality of this is it would undo what we just did. I would ask for a no vote.”

Carroll again asks if there are any “no” votes and literally stops in the middle of counting to to whip her members into submission tears obedience voting the right way.  While it’s tough to see her after she hustles off to the floor, her voice yelling at her members – we presume Jahn and Tochtrop – is unmistakeable.  She can be heard saying, “This is a procedural vote.” Another member responds with “this is NOT a procedural vote” and then “this is unconstitutional”.

Not only was this maneuver not kosher, but Carroll’s conduct is more fitting of the President of Sweet Valley High Student Council than President of the Colorado State Senate.


DIGGING DEEPER: Quinnipiac Poll Forecasts Bad News for Legislative Dems

While Gov. John Hickenlooper might be breathing a sigh of relief after a new Quinnipiac poll shows him leading against GOP rivals, further analysis shows that legislative Democrats might not have much to celebrate.

When asked what they think of how the state legislature is performing, 51 percent of respondents said they disapprove and only a measly 34 percent approve.   This spells bad news for ruling Democrats who hold a razor thin one-seat majority in the state Senate.

Furthermore, it’s not helping the Democrats’ case that 56 percent of voters oppose the stricter gun laws they forced through the legislature last year.  Laws that, it’s worth mentioning, were rubber stamped by Hickenlooper.  The poll also reveals that voters believe arming teachers and using metal detectors at school entrances are more likely to reduce gun violence than stricter gun laws.  So basically, voters aren’t buying Dem claims that stricter gun laws make us safer.

That’s certainly not the news that Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll wants to hear.  Worse yet, it’s not the news that Dem donors want to hear either.  We can’t say it enough – donors like to back winners.  If early polling shows inklings of an insurmountable disapproval rating, then Carroll is going to have a heckuva time raising money.



ONE MORE THING: Dems Killed No-Brainer Amendment to Equal Pay Resolution

We wanted to take a quick moment to close the loop on the equal pay resolution in the state Senate last week.  When we left off on Thursday, Minority Leader Bill Cadman was attempting to tack on an amendment to the resolution that included Sen. Mark Udall and President Obama, both of whom pay their female staffers less than their male staffers.  Democrats laid the bill over until Friday hoping the frenzy of state assemblies would distract everyone from the fact that it had turned into an embarrassing episode for them.

Cadman’s amendment was ultimately killed, and it’s no wonder why.  At the end of the day, Democrats in the state legislature have more fealty to their party leadership than their own principles.  Udall was put on his heels when the media began questioning why he was advocating for a policy he didn’t personally adhere to when it came to his own staff.   The Senate’s resolution and Cadman’s amendment only served to further highlight Udall’s misogyny.

Heck, it wouldn’t surprise us if Udall’s staff made one of their infamous “hostile” phone calls to Majority Leader Morgan Carroll in an effort to persuade her to brush Cadman’s amendment under the rug.


PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING: CO Counties Leading Job Growth Are Conservative Strongholds

We can write about why conservative policies are good for the economy and boost job growth until we’re blue in the face, but nothing feels better than a real-life example that allows us to say: We told you so.

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that Douglas and Weld counties, Republican strongholds in Colorado, are national leaders for job growth.  That’s right, national.  Employment in Douglas County grew by 5.9 percent last year, while Weld County saw a healthy 5 percent growth in jobs.  Douglas County has such a friendly business environment that it’s been successful in attracting Fortune 500 corporations to locate their national headquarters there, such as CH2M Hill and DISH Network.  Weld County can directly attribute its growth to a booming energy sector that accounts for 92,100 jobs.

The report compared 334 counties in the United States that have 75,000 or more jobs.  While several other Colorado counties made the list, Douglas and Weld far outpaced them.  We also found it interesting that Douglas and Weld both ranked so high yet credit their respective success to very different industries and very different types of jobs.  This diversity underscores the fact that government policies should promote job growth in all industries and not discriminate against jobs that political leaders don’t think are good enough. We’re looking at you, President Barack Obama and Senate President Morgan Carroll.

We have watched the left do its damnedest to demonize big corporations and oil and gas companies, while simultaneously creating policies that promote big government and subsidize the fledgling questionably viable solar industry.  This is the wrong approach and only serves to hurt the hard working men and women who just want to earn an honest living.  Just a little something for Colorado Democrats to consider the next time they want to be taken seriously when it comes to the issue of jobs.


THE BEAT GOES ON: Two Years into Legislative Majority, Democratic Lawmakers Still No Friend to Business

Coming off a legislative session marked by some of the most anti-growth proposals in recent memory, Colorado Democrats are approaching the mid-way point of this year’s legislative calendar still focused on legal and regulatory initiatives that will grow red tape and impede job growth. Of course, we didn’t actually believe Colorado Senate President Morgan Carroll when she remarked before the session that Democrats’ main goal would be to improve Colorado’s economy.

From squashing common sense legislation to protect small business from the 25,000 pages of Colorado state regulations enacted since Hickenlooper took office, to a bill targeting entrepreneurs that provide standalone ER facilities that would expand healthcare options in the state and provide relief to our over-used hospital emergency rooms, Democrats have continued their trend of saying one thing and doing another.

On the oil and gas front, Democrats have focused their attacks on what could be our state’s most promising engine for job growth through non-legislative measures.  This weekend the Denver Business Journal reported that advocates for a state-wide fracking ban may compromise for a constitutional amendment giving local municipalities more control on exploration and production activities in their jurisdictions.  Such a measure stands to meaningfully curtail the economic activity that the oil and gas industry has brought to our state.  On the regulatory front, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission enacted what a representative from the Environmental Defense Fund called the nation’s “strongest rules” for the detection and mitigation of emissions across the oil and gas exploration and production value chain.

Unfortunately for middle-class Coloradans hoping for economic growth, our state’s Democratic leadership is not committed to setting the conditions for jobs and businesses to flourish.


OUCH: A History Lesson For Morgan Carroll and CO Senate Dems

After getting crushed in last summer’s recall elections and watching Amendment 66 get trounced at the ballot box, we have seen the Democrats make a last-ditch effort to save their one-seat majority in the state Senate by largely flying under the radar this session.  If history is any indication, however, state Democrats are, well, screwed.

This fascinating chart, first reported by The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, illustrates how poorly the president’s party does during second term, midterm elections at the state legislative level.

NCSL’s state legislative race expert Tim Storey, tells the Washington Post:

 ”Since 1902, the party in the White House lost seats in legislatures in 26 of the 28 mid-term elections.  The only exceptions being in 1934 when Democrats gained 1108 seats and in 2002 when Republicans netted 177 seats in the post 9/11 election.”

If we were Morgan Carroll, this chart would keep us up at night.


CLIFF DIVE: Enviros Predict State Senate Flip, Pressure Carroll to Push Through Lefty Bills Now

Until recently, Colorado Senate President Morgan Carroll (D-Trial Lawyers) was viewed as a strong friend of the environmental lobby and has been known for her willingness to carry the water of liberal special interests.  However, Carroll has been playing it cool this year after seeing her predecessor removed from office for pushing a radical agenda that included gun control and same-day voter registration.

As we’ve pointed out, the backlash from Coloradans after last summer’s recall elections could not have sent a clearer message to ruling Democrats: check yourself before you wreck yourself.  As such, Carroll has been careful to moderate her caucus and not allow any legislation that would rock the boat too much. continue…

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