The Silver Lining

Published on December 15, 2011 by

Fellow elephants, let me assure you: Things are not as bad as they seem. After a couple of very predictable losses at the State Supreme Court, suddenly people think that Colorado Republicans are headed back to the gallows of perpetual minority. It’s the Blueprint all over again. It brings back nightmares of the liberal takeover in 2004, but I’m here to tell you — don’t worry! This time it’s just a bad dream. When you wake up in the morning, it’s December 15, 2011, and here’s how things are different from December 15, 2003:

1. President Bush vs. President Obama. There is a President in the White House that Colorado’s unaffiliated voters can’t stand– but this time he’s a liberal Democrat. More that 50 percent of Colorado voters disapprove of President Obama. A little known fact: When President Obama won Colorado handily in 2008, Colorado Republicans picked up two state house seats. How good can we do when Obama is on the ballot, and upside down in the polls?

2. The Democratic Leadership Void. The Dems were leaderless in 2004, so Andrew Romanoff and Alice Madden filled the void. Today’s Democratic leaders — Udall and Hickenlooper — are a good at getting themselves elected, but people down ballot aren’t expecting any help from them. Can you imagine Hickenlooper barnstorming for Mark Ferrandino as Speaker? Mark Udall plugging for Morgan Carroll to Preside over the State Senate. ANY of them pushing for Barack Obama for President? (Shut up Michael Bennet- no one likes you.) As the Peak has covered well, Hickenlooper isn’t looking to steer the Democratic ship through these choppy waters. He’s looking for a lifeboat.  

3. They don’t make Democrats like they used to. Let’s dwell on that leadership void further: Brandon Shaffer is not Joan Fitzgerald. The Senate Dems are more of a mess than people realize — much like the Republican Senate of 2002 and 2004. Mark Ferrandino is not Andrew Romanoff. He may be closer to Alice Madden — that is, maybe he will play dirty. But the Good Cop/ Bad Cop routine of Romanoff and Madden was important to donors, to unaffiliateds and the business community that Republicans had relied upon — I can’t think of a single Democrat that can come close to Romanoff in the state House right now. They are all…small and petty.

4. They make Republicans better than they used to. Frank McNulty vs. Lola Spradley. Cory Gardner vs. Marylin Musgrave. Enough said. And in those Republican Congressional seats that people consider competitive? We couldn’t ask for better match ups: In CD 3, Scott Tipton is facing a guy who is best known for facing TWO convictions for peeing in public. In the 6th, Mike Coffman set the NATIONAL land speed record for NRCC fundraising before he even had a competitive district, and now his milktoast opponent is facing a primary. And the 7th CD even might get interesting.  

5. Democrats can’t change the subject this time. There are no statewide offices on the ballot other than President in 2012. For the past three cycles, Dems have enjoyed capitalizing on mistakes made by Bob Beauprez, Bob Schaffer, and Ken Buck in way that hurt our team down ticket. There’s literally no way for Dems to do that this time, since there isn’t a race other than President than can substantially effect the party’s brand.

6. Competitive districts no longer mean Democratic Districts. For the first time since 2000, Republicans are outpacing Democrats in new voter registration. In fact, there’s some evidence that Democrats are hemorrhaging members in Colorado. If the trend keeps up, I’ll take my chances in a district that was drawn because it leaned Democrat by 3 points in 2010…    

7. Republicans actually have their S**t together. The dust hasn’t even settled, and we already have good candidates running in the right districts (a HUGE difference from 2004, in its own right). The state party is in the best financial position since McCain/Feingold passed. Donors are MOTIVATED, not disenchanted.  

My friends, what I’m saying is that it’s OK to be angry, but it’s not OK to think we are in trouble. We have to be diligent. We have to be smart. No backbiting or second guessing — it’s time to stand up and fight the people who did this — the people who can’t look a voter in the eye and tell them that Democrats in Colorado practice politics the way the voters would want them to. This is our year, and we have the high ground, the issues and the momentum on our side.  

This is a fact: Our team is in a significantly better position than it was the last time that this happened. The question is: What are you going to do to make it even better?  


“WE WANT THE DOG”: Conservative Media Puts Occupy Denver In Its Place

No one has ever accused the Occupy Denver squatter horde from being savvy or even possessing the remotest amount of intelligence. This past weekend they put their stupidity on display again. Only this time conservative bloggers from across Colorado and the country were there to document their latest inane attempt at relevance.

Video and coverage from Peoples Press Collective (here & here) show a band of unbathed boobs trying to "storm" the conference room last Friday where the Blog Con 2011 conservative blogger conference was meeting. Apparently the protesters incorrectly believed the conference was funded by the infamous Koch Brothers. The Google button on their corporatist iPhones must not have been working, as the conference was sponsored by FreedomWorks, which has no affiliation with the conservative donor siblings. Oops.

Never mind the fact that a group of people exercising their first amendment rights is probably not the best target for a group who claims their first amendment rights are being infringed upon when the cops shut down their squatter camp. What was truly amazing about the Occupier's stupidity is they chose to crash an event that was populated by conservative bloggers with a combined audience in the millions.

Did they not realize they were setting themselves up to be shamed and mocked ruthlessly?

Within minutes of the altercation, we started seeing stories pop up on outlets from to Hot Air. Last we counted, the cumulative Youtube views of the failed Occupier effort had crossed 100,000. 

Footage shot by bloggers also made its way to CBS4 and Fox News, ensuring an even wider audience would know the depths of the Occupiers' ineptitude.

Even The Denver Post joined in the coverage, noting that the small group of Occupiers were chanting "We are the 99%" with the bloggers chanting back "We want the dog" — a reference to Occupy Denver's elected leader, a border collie named Shelby.

Saul Alinsky's spirit was alive and well with the bloggers. One of Alinsky's famous "Rules for Radicals" is man's most potent weapon is ridicule.

It seems all the Occupiers succeeded in doing was to give great content to a group of bloggers and further expose themselves to be nothing more than an angry and mindless group of leftist activists with nothing better to do than attack those they disagree with. 

Also caught on tape and covered by Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft was the fact that a private school teacher from Denver's St. Mary's Academy had taken a class of students to watch the Occupiers trespass on private property and barge in on a private conference. You know…a learning opportunity. That blog coverage led to a report on Channel 7, highlighting a brazen act of poor judgment that would have gone uncovered if not for the conservative media's effort. 

The following day the "stubborn" Occupiers had their weekly Saturday march, leading to yet another violent confrontation with police, who had warned them for days that it was illegal to continue to squat on public property. Not to be deterred from their selfish belief that wherever they feel like squatting is all of the sudden their property, the protesters proceeded to shut down public streets with chants of "Whose streets? Our streets."

The drivers of the cars that were trying to get down Colfax probably felt differently about who owned the streets, but we digress.

We were able to follow these events not because the mainstream media was covering it, which it barely was, but because of the good work of conservative media outlets. In Colorado, you can find the most extensive collection of coverage on all things Occupy Denver from Complete Colorado. On Saturday night we were able to watch the Occupiers make fools of themselves and get chased up and down the 16th St Mall thanks to Complete's embedding of a livestream of the events.

Peoples Press Collective had video up from the Occupier crashing of the conservative blogger confab minutes after the confrontation. Kelly Maher has covered the violent threats and roving mob mentality of the Occupiers for the Daily Caller and WhoSaidYouSaid, giving the world a peek behind the curtain of absurdity and sometimes downright violent intentions.

Had there been weekly violent confrontations between police and the Tea Party, we don't doubt for a second that the street would be lined with news trucks covering the events ad nauseam. Violent leftist radicals is apparently a played out narrative for the mainstream media. Nothing we haven't seen here before. Better get back to covering the latest snow storm. 

The behavior exposed by the conservative media, including the burning of an American flag at Occupy Denver, led even ProgressNow's Alan Franklin to say he was "disappointed" in the protesters. Consider that a victory. How often do you see the Left castigating its own?

It used to be said that you should never pick a battle with those that buy ink by the barrel. The new reality seems to be never pick a battle with someone who generates clicks by the thousands. In this case the Obama-backed Occupiers charged the lion's den, only to see their credibility and influence destroyed in a fit of blog posts and cell phone video clips. 

We wonder if Rep. Wes McKinley is regretting setting up his TeePee alongside the squatter hordes at this point? We know we wouldn't want the association to be brought up with our rural constituents back home. 

(Photo credit: Peoples Press Collective)


TEACHER UNIONS LOSING STREAK CONTINUES: 103, School Boards & Teacher Rating System Part Of Trend

The teacher unions in Colorado, primarily the Colorado Education Association (CEA), have had an amazingly terrible track record in Colorado politics recently, picking one electoral loser after another and throwing good money after bad on failed policy priorities. With last week's school board elections, the crushing defeat of Prop 103 and the coming implementation of a teacher rating system from 2010's SB 191, the trend is continuing unabated.

The drift towards ineffectiveness began during last year's legislative session with the passage of SB 191 (PDF), a bill designed to reform teacher tenure and bring some measure of accountability into Colorado public schools. Despite being viciously opposed by the perennial Democrat campaign bank-rollers, the CEA, and in a government where Democrats controlled the House, Senate and Governorship, the bill passed with Republican support and some gutsy Democrats like state Senator Michael Johnston (D-Denver).

The bill included the development of a teacher rating system, which the AP reports is poised to be signed off on by the state Board of Education today. The rating system is four-tiered — highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective — that will be used to grade teachers and principals. Those receiving the rating of "ineffective" for two straight years lose tenure. Despite the CEA finding horrifying the idea of teachers being judged on their merit and not just the amount of time they've stuck around, the reform is becoming real. 

Some Democrats literally cried their eyes out on the floor when the bill passed, but we're jumping for joy at the idea of the CEA's massive public policy loss. 

The CEA has dumped untold sums into political races over the years, and are an important piece of CODA's funding structure. They've smeared many a good conservative with lies and misleading mailers. It's nice to finally see them fall, and fall hard. 

What began with SB 191 has continued through almost every election this year, from Denver Mayor to Prop 103. After supporting Chris Romer for Denver Mayor and throwing money into a 527 attacking Michael Hancock, the CEA has become persona non grata in Mayor Hancock's office. They also threw six figure sums at the Denver school board races, only to see the pro-reform majority remain intact, and at least $75,000 towards Prop 103, which failed in all but the three most left-wing counties. 

While unions might have won a big victory in Ohio yesterday with the overturning of the law limiting collective bargaining for public employees, the teachers unions in Colorado have known nothing but defeat in recent times.

The general movement of Colorado's electorate and political establishment is towards reform, with the state increasingly seen as a leader nationally in the education reform fight. 

This has potentially great implications for Colorado conservatives. More Democrats running for office on education reform platforms means less races that the CEA will invest heavily in smearing conservatives and buying politicians to protect the unacceptable education status quo.

Then Democrats will actually have to fight elections on their own, and as Prop 103 demonstrated, the liberal political establishment is just not where Colorado's electorate stands. That sounds like progress to us.


PROP 103 POST-MORTEM: How A Rag-Tag Collection Of Conservatives Helped Kill The $3 Billion Tax Hike

It's been a whole week since the voters of Colorado told state Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) and his tax hike team of liberal legislators to "occupy this," so we figured it was a good time to take a look back at the forces that helped kill the proposed $3 Billion tax hike known as Prop 103. While opponents of the ballot measure were outspent 6:1 by proponents, they managed to help lead the initiative to a nearly 2:1 defeat.

How they did is a telling lesson for conservatives going forward.

Much like the Tea Party, the opposition to Prop 103 had no unified group, nor a big bank account to draw from, yet they managed to outfox supporters of hiking taxes at every turn, decisively winning the message war.

President of the Independence Institute, Jon Caldara, told the Peak he believes that the way the loose coalition opposing Prop 103 worked was a boon to its success:

"Prop 103 was a rare example of the center right coalition working together. Without turf warfare, big egos and bickering, different groups and individuals had the freedom to get the message out their own way. Everyone was focused on the goal instead of tearing down fellow conservatives. Maybe Republican candidates could learn something from us. 

As Colorado voters inherently understand raising taxes in a recession is a recipe for disaster, had there been no opposition to Prop 103, it probably still would have failed. The ultimate effect that opponents had was to increase the margin of loss, discouraging liberals from pushing a statewide tax hike in the near future, and keeping tax hike supporters on the back of their heels for most of the campaign. 

A clear view of the successful opposition campaign could be found through Googling "Prop 103" once ballots went out. Hitting the first page of results were a variety of conservative views, from Ross Kaminsky's analysis to the Independence Institute's Youtube domino sensation. As more and more voters rely on the Google search to inform their ballot measure vote, it was a sign of conservative victory, and liberal defeat. 

It all began before the 2010 election cycle was even over, with conservative business leaders Buzz Koelbel and Earl L. Wright penning a Denver Post Op-Ed warning Coloradans of the coming campaign by the liberal establishment to raise taxes. What they then called a "secret plan to raise taxes" became not-so-secret in the early days of 2011 with WhoSaidYouSaid's Kelly Maher and us at Colorado Peak Politics reporting on the tax hike machinations of Liberal Loon Carol Hedges and Rollie Heath himself. 

Maher dealt the first significant communications blow to the liberal establishment when through a Colorado Opens Record Request (CORA) she brought to light a Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce poll showing an uphill battle for raising taxes in any shape or form in 2011.

That helped frame the issue as one that Democrat politicians, skittish of taking positions that don't poll-test well, might want to avoid becoming embroiled in.

Over the coming weeks and months both WhoSaid and us at the Peak assiduously covered the maneuvers of the tax hike supporters trying to figure out exactly what type of tax hike porridge voters might cotton to. 

The next big blow to Prop 103 came in the form of a study commissioned by the free-market Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR), which showed that if Rollie's proposed $3 Billion tax hike passed it could kill up to 119,700 jobs. This study, more than anything, defined the terms of the debate early on, with supporters unable to come up with a competing "study" claiming no job loss until the week before the election. 

The liberal trolls over at Colorado Pols were, of course, up in arms about the reporting of this job loss study, quibbling with the amount of jobs Prop 103 would purportedly kill. But by training their fire on the number of jobs lost they were walking into the rhetorical trap designed to frame the debate as a tax hikes=job loss argument.

It was this message frame that proponents were never able to escape and probably what drove support even lower than it would have been otherwise. 

Hammering home the job loss argument, the Independence Institute (I2I) also published a study (PDF) showing the deleterious consequence for employment that raising taxes would have. While I2I's study showed less job loss than CSPR's study, it had the effect of guaranteeing further public discussion of the employment effects of Prop 103 — not a place proponents could afford to be anywhere near in the waning days of the campaign. 

While Prop 103 proponents were busy begging liberal legislators to put their imprimatur on the ballot initiative, opponents were toiling away at warning conservatives across Colorado of the need to turn out and turn down the tax hike. 

Between the efforts of grassroots groups Too Taxing for Colorado and Save Colorado Jobs, soon after Rollie Heath got Prop 103 to the ballot, conservatives were organizing themselves in opposition to the initiative. Too Taxing ultimately punched out nearly 150,000 robocalls, 6000 yard signs and 100,000 fliers, as well as organized Prop 103 opponent speakers for events, helping giving the opposition campaign clear visibility in communities across the state. 

Joining the fight late, but with plenty of firepower, was Compass Colorado who unleashed a wave of ads and robocalls blistering legislators stupid enough to affix their public support to the ballot measure. It was Compass Colorado's ad hitting state Senator Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) that will ensure Prop 103's massive loss continues to haunt liberals through at least the next election cycle. 

Beyond losing the messaging war, the supporters of Prop 103 were constantly on the back of their heels over process stories regarding their latest stupid mistakes. What began with Rollie Heath's kidnapping of a class of Douglas County 4th graders for his press conference was followed by Complete Colorado's reporting that pro-Prop 103 propaganda was being illegally mailed to parents of school children in Adams County.

Adding insult to injury, WhoSaid's Kelly Maher nailed a paid petition circulator on tape openly lying about whether Prop 103 would raises taxes or not. In an interesting twist, we've heard rumors recently that we might not have heard the last from infamous petition gatherer "Ricky" and his less-than-honest tactics.

These stories helped influence the outcome by casting a narrative of a hapless, bumbling bunch of tax hiking incompetents – ignorant about the impacts of higher taxes on a recessionary economy – just as they are ignorant about how to run and message a statewide campaign.

All of these conservatives' efforts on Prop 103 led to a spectacularly massive defeat, more than even the most grizzled operatives were expecting.  

As Caldara notes, conservatives worked independently towards a shared goal, not defined by the bickering that has consumed too many campaigns in recent years. They did it through a fiscally focused message, covering closely any major slip ups by proponents, and in the end delivered one of the most embarrassing defeats the liberal political establishment in Colorado has seen in a very long time. 

(Photo via Denver Post election results)


WILL PROP 103 LOOM LARGE IN 2012? Ballot Measures Rarely Die Only At The Ballot Box

Remember Ref C? Jane Norton does. Bob Beauprez does. What about Ref A? John Salazar thanks his lucky stars for the ballot initiative — he never would have been elected without his opponent's support of it. In fact, 2004's Ref A became a defining issue for races on the West Slope for three election cycles straight. All of this is to say ballot measures don't die only at the ballot box. They can continue to haunt supporters or opponents for years after Election Day.

As much as the liberal establishment in Colorado hopes that the lessons and results from Prop 103 die a quick death, never to be heard from again, they are hoping against historical trends. As the measure found failure in every corner of Colorado there is no upside for supporters of the proposed $3 Billion tax hike. 

On the legislative level, that is bad news for state Senators like Evie Hudak, who has been hit with $60,000 in ads already over her Prop 103 support, as well as Linda Newell, who will also face a tough general election in 2012. 

Newell barely squeaked out a victory in 2008, in a banner year for Democrats. While she tried her hardest to hide her support for Prop 103, in a bit of bare knuckle politics Save Colorado Jobs' Victor Mitchell got her on the record in support of the measure during a Prop 103 debate. 

You can guarantee her opponents will beat her over the head with her love of tax hikes in a recession come next October. 

It might even come from the same group that hit Hudak, Compass Colorado. The President of Compass Colorado, Tyler Q. Houlton, released the following statement on the day after the election: 

“Liberal Senators Evie Hudak and Brandon Shaffer are wearing their support of Prop 103 like a badge of honor despite the economic ruin it would’ve caused,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, president of Compass Colorado. “But the resounding rejection of Prop 103 has made it a political scarlet letter on any politician that supported it. Hudak and Shaffer will hope Coloradans forget their steadfast support of this $2.9 billion tax hike – but we won’t let that happen.”

As telegraphed by Compass Colorado, Prop 103 is also going to provide a swift kick to the shins for Senate President Brandon Shaffer, who is running for Congress in the conservative 4th Congressional District. Both we and top Democrat power brokers think his chances of victory are between zero and zilch, so Shaffer's support of Prop 103 is likely to only increase the margin of victory for incumbent Congressman Cory Gardner.

Rollie Heath had a bad night Tuesday, watching his ballot initiative get curb kicked even in liberal bastions like Denver and Pueblo. But being a Boulder state Senator means he has little to worry about in 2012. 

Those who have much to worry about can be found on our comprehensive list of legislative lovers of Prop 103 here.

You can be sure conservatives of all stripes will work hard to educate voters on these legislative losers support of a massive tax hike in a recession. Considering how badly Prop 103 went down on Tuesday, that has to make those politicians very, very nervous. 



The election results hadn't even been certified and already liberal activists were ripping Governor Chickenlooper Hickenlooper a new one, furious over his refusal to back their $3 Billion tax hike. Rollie Heath, the main backer of the initiative that went down in flames, was equally upset, but instead turned his fire on the voters of Colorado.

The anger at the Democrat governor was on full display over at Colorado Pols, where the angry denizens of the netroots let loose their frustration on the Guv. We can't print what they said about him, but let's say it rhymes with Mother Hucking Pig Chucker. A few others had derisive things to say about the Democrats' leadership in general, annoyed as we were that they wouldn't even take a position on the tax increase, perhaps fearing the inevitable defeat the ballot measure was headed towards. 

This, folks, is civil war. A circular firing squad. And we love it. 

While activists reserved much of their scorn for the elected leadership's abysmal failure to raise taxes, the lead politician backing Prop 103, Rollie Heath, decided that rather than blame himself, he would insult the voters of Colorado. 

In basically calling Coloradans stupid for not believing raising taxes in a recession was the right decision, Rollie dared to insult the same folks his liberal political establishment will be asking to re-elect another big tax increase lover in only a year's time. 

"I just don't know how far in education cuts we'll have to do before people realize what we're doing," he told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in poor English.

"I cannot accept the response that the citizens of this state don't want to raise taxes," he whined to The Denver Post back in February when he began his ill-fated drive to raise taxes in a recession. 

Well, sorry Rollie, but you don't have a choice in accepting it or not. The voters spoke and they told you to sit down and shut up. 

Voters told every tax hiker to take a hike, with virtually every tax measure in the state going down by big numbers, because there are plenty of other bills they need to pay before they even begin to think about giving the government more money. 

The netroot ghouls at Colorado Pols probably have it right. Blame the politicians before you blame the people. You can't replace the people. 


PROP 103 GOES DOWN IN FLAMES: A Stinging Defeat For Liberal Legislators And The Teachers’ Unions

In a stinging defeat for teachers' unions, Colorado's liberal political network, and a brazen group of Democrat legislators who dared to ask for higher taxes in a record-breaking recession, Proposition 103 was soundly rejected by the voters tonight, losing statewide by almost 30% with almost half of the ballots in.

Now we guess we know why Governor John Chickenlooper Hickenlooper hid from taking a position. The Governor must have a pretty good pollster who told the state's CEO that this one was headed down in flames.  

And down in flames is an exactly accurate description, as the initiative was resoundingly rejected by voters from liberal counties like Pueblo to conservative counties like Mesa. In Mesa county, which had the highest turnout of any major county going into election day, unofficial results on the clerk's website show the ballot measure losing with a whopping 75% NO vote.

In Jefferson County, one of the most pivotal to Barack Obama's chances next year, the unofficial results show voters rejecting higher taxes at a 2:1 ratio. That's what you might call a harbinger of doom for Obama's political lackies sitting in campaign headquarters in Chicago. 

JeffCo was the site where Compass Colorado waged a spirited battle to defeat the measure. And it showed.

Tyler Q. Houlton, the President of Compass Colorado, had this to say about Prop 103's defeat:

Liberal special interest groups, and their allies in Colorado’s Legislature, simply do not understand that multi-billion dollar tax hikes lead to massive job loss and stifle economic recovery. Fortunately for our economy, Coloradans rejected this job-killing $2.9 billion tax hike that was never guaranteed to fund Colorado schools in the first place. The failure of Proposition 103 is a major set back for all left-leaning organizations that plan to force more tax hikes on next year’s ballot.

This is not the result Rollie Heath was looking for, nor was it one that gives any confidence to backers of Obama or the liberal political establishment who were hoping to run a bigger tax increase next year.

While Obama may be personally popular among Coloradans, his tax and spend agenda has been thoroughly rejected by citizens of the Centennial State. 

Tonight's vote was a repudiation of state Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), state Senator Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) and the liberal tax hike team who were too slow witted to get that a Great Recession is no time for a great big tax increase. 

Image: xedos4 /


TURNOUT ANALYSIS: Where Are The Ballots Coming From?

We said last week that there was one way and one way only for the proposed $3 Billion tax increase known as Prop 103 to pass and that was conservative voter apathy. Luckily, GOP voters have turned out in far larger numbers than Democrats, which is not welcome news for Rollie Heath and his Tax Hike Team of liberal legislators. As of ballots returned over the weekend, the statewide turnout was 42% Republican, 33% Democrat and 25% Unaffiliated. This ratio has remained the same since last week, seeming to infer there will be no mass influx of Democrat votes at the end, despite Colorado Pols protestations to the contrary.

As of October 1, 2011, the state's active registration was 37% Republican, 33% Democrat and 29% Unaffiliated, meaning the GOP is overperforming by 5% whereas Democrats are performing right at their registration level and Unaffiliateds are underperforming by 5%. In raw vote GOP voters outpace Democrats by 65,000 votes, though that by itself does not necessarily mean defeat for Prop 103. In 2010, Republicans had a raw vote lead over Democrats by 108,000 votes coming into Election Day and still lost the Governor and Senate races. 

To get a closer look at where those votes are coming from, we've analyzed the top 11 most populous counties comparing votes by party registration to total ballots mailed. For Denver and Pueblo that includes inactive failed to vote (IFTV) voters. As the party registrations are not published for that small subset of voters, the analysis is limited total turnout in those two counties. 

(**Note: Arapahoe County is only showing 25% turnout, but it is a notoriously slow county to report turnout. With a competitive mayor's race in Aurora, turnout is expected to be much higher, meaning the 25% number is expected to jump significantly when results start to be tabulated. Sources say it's expected to be about 40k in Aurora alone.)

So…who's voting?

According to the Colorado Peak Politics analysis, the biggest turnout is in Mesa County, where 49% of voters have returned ballots, including 53% of the county's 13,531 Democrats and 49% of the county's 31,133 Republicans. 

Next up are El Paso and Jefferson counties, with 37% turnout, with the GOP outperforming the Democrats as a percent of active voter registration 41-37 in El Paso and 42-38 in Jefferson. As the number of GOP active registered voters in JeffCo and El Paso is significantly higher than Democrat registration, that translates into a lot more Republican votes in the bank. For El Paso the Republican raw vote lead over Democrats is 29,604 and in JeffCo it is 8,796.

This is potentially good news for the GOP-backed school board candidacies of Jim Powers and Preston Branaugh, who have been fighting an uphill battle against candidates supported by the powerful teacher's unions. 

The lowest turnout county as a percent of ballots mailed is Denver, where only 27% of voters have returned their ballots, despite heavy spending in the school board races and a vicious fight over Initiative 300, which would mandate small businesses provide up to 9 paid sick days per year for their employees. 

Democrats are outperforming Republicans 34-33 in Adams County in addition to Mesa. The performance is tied in Larimer and Douglas as a percent of voter registration. The GOP is turning out at higher levels in Arapahoe, Boulder, El Paso, Jefferson, and Weld. 

With the highest turnout seen among conservative counties, there are high hopes among opponents of Prop 103 that it will go down in defeat in a big way.

The big question tonight is not whether or not Prop 103 loses, but by how much.

If it's a close vote, we fully expect the entire liberal establishment, including Governor Hickenlooper, to come trick-or-treating in the near future asking for a significantly higher tax increase than $3 billion. Should the ballot measure lose by big margins, groups like the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the teacher's unions would have significant pause about spending resources to support a tax increase in the next year or two. 

As it's too late to mail your ballot today, make sure you drop it off at an approved vote center or your County Clerk and Recorder's office. 

Also make sure to check back at the Peak for the latest election results, which will be available here shortly after 7.

Image: taoty /


TRICK OR TREAT: The Many Masks Of John Hickenlooper

Governor John Hickenlooper loves to be all things to all people. It's a shape-shifting costume that has worked well for the popular governor for many months, but as we reach the first Halloween of his governorship, the makeup is beginning to run and the true John Hickenlooper is starting to show. Under the many layers, a Hickenlooper incapable of engaging the "big fights" and the big issues is beginning to emerge. 

While we at the Peak have been shouting from the rooftops for many, many months that Hickenlooper isn't all his political persona cracks him up to be, it is only in recent weeks that others have been joining the skeptics bandwagon. 

If not for the meddling Rollie Heath and his Prop 103, Hickenlooper might have gotten away with it too. 

With the massive proposed tax increase that is Prop 103, Hick was presented with a high profile issue he couldn't easily duck or find an easy win with. He had to either break his vow not to support a tax increase in his first year, harming his political mettle with the middle, or oppose the tax hike and cause him trouble with his base on the left. Not liking the impact of either of those positions, Hick tried to have it both ways, refusing to support the initiative while dog whistling liberals hinting at personal, if not full-on political, support for the ballot measure. 

That's like being a judge for a Halloween costume contest and voting for both finalists — all you end up doing is annoying everyone and pleasing no one.

Prop 103 is far from the only time Hickenlooper tried to have it both ways. A tendency most glaringly obvious in the case of Prop 103, the trend has reared its ugly head in a host of other cases. 

What Hick thinks is a political environment that lets him "avoid the big fights," now appears more clearly to be Hick's own skittishness at engaging any issue that doesn't poll in the mid-60s.

For your reading pleasure, here is a brief glimpse of Hick's most recent history of masquerading in the middle. 

1. Two Ways On Tebow: When asked whether he supported the ascension of Bronco's quarterback Tim Tebow to the starting position, Hick hedged and said he support whatever Coach Fox wants. Hick's position per Eli Stokols of Fox31: "I support the Coach, whatever Coach Fox wants, I support," Hickenlooper said. "But I think give [Tebow] a shot. Lets see what he can do for a few games."

2. DPS Endorsement Duck: In a statement reminiscent of his recent musings on Prop 103, Hick insisted he wasn't going to offer endorsements in the Denver Public School board races, but then went on to praise a slate of candidates by name and had nothing to say about their opponents. As the former Mayor and current Governor, we're sure Hick had no idea of the impact of his statements. He was just, you know, offering his personal thoughts.

3. Occupy Denver Squatter Sidestep: After waiting weeks while the squatter city took shape in Denver, Hick was finally pressured into enforcing the rule of law. Hoping the winter weather would chase away the protesters from a state park, Hick held fast to his indecisive MO in the hopes he wouldn't have to wade into a rapidly deteriorating situation. This case of vacillating caught up to him, with Hick becoming a national enemy of the Occupy movement and the middle and right losing faith in the Governor's ability to control even a small camp of squatters. Had Hick shut the camp down in the early days, it is likely the situation wouldn't have descended into the utter chaos of last Saturday, where police were assaulted and protesters were beat back with pepper spray and rubber bullets. 

4. Presidential Pussyfooting: When asked by the Colorado Springs Gazette if he would be campaigning for Obama in the state that Hick himself said would be at the center of the political universe next year, John Schroyer reports that Hick dodged the issue. Trying to back away from promising to stump for the President, Hick begged off claiming poor public speaking skills. Hick has struggled even deciding what he thinks of Obama's chances, telling Politico a few months ago that Obama would "have a hard time" winning Colorado, but then backtracking to say Obama "probably can win."

We wonder…when Halloween is over will Hick be the guy that keeps showing up in costume to work?


SAL PACE SABOTAGE: Pushes Anti-Tax Message In Campaign Email During Dem Campaign To Hike Taxes

People who write political emails are aware that often times they aren't opened or if they are, people merely scan them, rather than reading them like they would a message from a friend or co-worker. Knowing that, it seems rather odd for Sal Pace's (D-Urination) Congressional campaign to blast out an email to his list with the subject: "Tell Tipton YOU Deserve a Tax Cut." At a time when his party is desperately trying to push through a $3 Billion tax increase with Prop 103, the highest ranking state House Democrat is seemingly sabotaging their efforts with a decidedly anti-tax increase message.

Adding to Pace's blitz, his email is chock full of attacks on tax increases in general, telling his supporters that Colorado families can't afford ANY tax hikes. Here's a few select lines:

Join the fight! Sign our petition and add your name — tell Scott Tipton that Colorado's working families can't afford a tax hike!

…Sign before MIDNIGHT tonight and add your voice — tell Scott Tipton that regular Coloradans can’t afford a tax hike!  

This 2% payroll tax hike makes no sense economically. Our working families need as much income as they can — not only to support themselves, but to re-invest in our economy.

We wonder what Rollie Heath thinks of this, since he claims working families CAN afford a tax hike. 

Pace has hidden like Hickenlooper on Prop 103, trotting out the line that people don't have an appetite for tax increases, while refusing to take a position himself

Based on the statements in his campaign email we don't understand how his supporters could think he is anything but opposed to Prop 103.

Maybe someone in the press can get Pace to clarify — if working families CAN'T afford a tax hike then how can they afford Prop 103? Or is Pace okay with an initiative being passed that families can't afford?

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