Statesman celebrates 118th birthday with launch of new business model

February 5th, 2016

The Colorado Statesman celebrated its 118th birthday last night, with a party at the Governor’s Mansion carriage house and the launch of a new website and business model.

In a short speech at the event, Statesman Publisher Jared Wright praised his staff and noted that the newspaper now has more capitol reporters than any other publication in the state.

That’s part of reason, Wright hopes, that people will buy subscriptions to the publication, which run $13.25 per month ($159 per year) for print and digital together and $179 for a digital-access-only subscription. A 14-day trial is free.  This higher digital-only price incentivizes people to take the print-and-digital package, Wright says, because the print edition generates other ad revenue for the newspaper. Nonsubscribers now can only access AP and opinion pieces on the Statesman website, plus teasers about original content.

“We’re getting a lot of people who are paying $30 more not to receive the print paper,” said Wright. This is because they’re buying the digital-only subscription. So, if you buy a subscription, and you should, do the Statesman a favor and buy the print and digital package.

Is there any model for success using this approach?

“There are a number of publications that are models, most of them are in DC, but the one in the West is the Arizona Capitol Times,” Wright told me, who calls the Statesman “more of a trade journal than a traditional newspaper.”

Asked if there’s a date by which the publication must succeed or shut down, Wright said, “Things are looking good financially now, and will see how it goes.”

A 20-minute program at last night’s reception, moderated by 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, featured speeches by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, both of whom gushed about importance of the Statesman our era of diminished journalism generally and the death of the Rocky Mountain News in particular.

“The great thing about the Statesman is it’s nonpartisan,” said Hickenlooper in a video presented at the event. “It’s pro-partisan, is phrase that somebody used [to describe it]. They want to encourage debate…. Overall, I wouldn’t trade a strong media in the capitol for anything. I think it’s essential…. Long live the Statesman.”

Larry Mizel, who apparently owns a controlling interest in the newspaper, was also at last night’s birthday event, chatting with GOP State Senate President Bill Cadman for a good bit. Mizel is a well-known moderate Republican, and his involvement, along with his hiring of Wright, a former GOP lawmaker, as editor, raised concerns among progressives about the newspaper’s commitment to being fair and accurate. But so far, I don’t see any ideological tilt in the Statesman’s coverage. Its reporting staff, at least the ones I know, are highly regarded by both Democrats and Republicans.

Last night’s crowded reception attracted a bipartisan crowd including Cadman, Rep. Justin Everett, Rep. Alec Garnett, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, Rep. Dan Pabon, operative Dick Wadhams, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. That’s heavy on Republicans, I realize, but for some reason they stand out in my mind.

What about employers who are mean and greedy?

February 4th, 2016

On the radio Tuesday, GOP Chair Steve House amplified Republican lawmakers’ objections to the parental-leave legislation, which advanced in the state House yesterday.

Steve House said the bill, which allows parents to attend a limited number of school functions, is unneeded because employers already treat their employees nicely.

House: The point you just brought up,  one of the biggest problems we have as a Party is, we let the Democrats get away with the wrong premise — the premise in that case being that the average employer is not going to take care of their employees, or be flexible — like you just described– so therefore the government has to do it.   That’s crazy.  I’ve worked for a number of employers in my life.  I’ve watched employers deal with the fact that an employee needed  time to go to a school, or you know, to a meeting in the middle of the day. It doesn’t require government intervention unless your premise is all employers are too mean-spirited to do it, and that’s ridiculous!

KLZ 560-AM’s Steve Curtis didn’t ask Steve House, “What’s the big deal, if employers are so nice anyway. Why not have the law in place for the ones that are mean and greedy?’

We know there’s a few of them out there.

GOP Senate candidate fears U.S. government could quickly turn on citizens

February 3rd, 2016

Charles Ehler, who’s one of the dozen or so Republicans vying for Democrat Michael Bennet’s U.S. Senate seat, shared this image on his Facebook page, with no explanation:

I called Ehler,  who is an Air Force Veteran, to find out how close he thinks our government is to rounding us up in boxcars–or if this was a joke. I mean, banning assault rifles leads to this?

Ehler: “It’s funny, and it’s not funny,” he told me, “because we could appear to be a beneveolent society, and as soon as the guns are gone, overnight, we could have a society like that. The force of government can turn on citizens almost at the blink of an eye. It’s called human nature. I have the force and you don’t.

Are we there? I don’t know that we’re there, but boy it could turn quickly. I really don’t think Americans need to find that out. We don’t need to create the conditions for it.”

“I’m collecting a pay check, and the person ordered me to shoot,” he said, pointing to government massacres at Wounded Knee, Ludlow, and Sand Creek.

“I’m also concerned about people getting trigger happy with the guns,” said Ehler, who’s retired from General Dynamics and has run motorcycle-restoration and bicycle-repair businesses. “And we see that happening with the police.

“We saw it with the fellow killed in Oregon the other day. They never saw a gun, but they shot him anyway. The excuse was, he was reaching for a gun.”

Ehler’s comments are in line with his website, which states, “A man with a gun needs little help from government to secure his freedom.”

U.S. Senate candidate wants to axe Department of Education

February 2nd, 2016

Just as Colorado’s GOP State Chair Steve House is telling his fellow Republicans to talk more about education, GOP Senate candidate Peggy Littleton is saying that one of her top priorities if elected would be to abolish the Department of Education.

Asked by KCOL morning host Jimmy Lakey what she’d do if she were the “queen for a day” in the U.S. Senate, Littleton said:

Littleton: I would love to see the Department of Education go away. I don’t want those bureaucrats in Washington to deermine what our kids are going to learn and be able to do and have taken education away from the parents, which is where it originally belongs.” Listen to Littleton on KCOL’s Jimmy Lakey Show 1.26.16

“Education belongs in the hands of the parents, teachers and local school boards, not with unelected bureaucrats in DC,” Littleton tweeted in response to this post.

Littleton is following in the footsteps of a list of (mostly) failed Republicans who’ve called for the elimination of the Department of Education. (Usually they don’t talk about the the Department’s job training, grant making, and research functions.)

Rick Perry remembered it during his Ooops Mooment, when he forgot one of the three federal departments he’d shutter.

During his failed U.S. Senate run, Ken Buck called for its closure. So did loser U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton. Failed Scott McInnis suggested axing it in 2010.

Does Littleton want to be part of that group?

UPDATE: I updated this post with Littleton’s tweet at 3 p.m. Feb. 2.

 

For the follow-up file: Keyser dodges questions on TABOR and immigration

February 1st, 2016

It what appears to be the first radio interview of his U.S. Senate run, state Rep. Jon Keyser dodged questions on whether he’d like to change TABOR and abolish a state program offering in-state tuition for undocumented college students.

On KNUS 710-AM Saturday morning, Craig Silverman asked Keyser, “Are you a high tax or a low tax kind of guy? And how do you feel about changing TABOR – the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Colorado?”

Keyser (@8:35 below): Well, certainly, that’s a state issue, and I’m running for United States Senate, but I am a low tax guy.  I think that the free market economy is something that is always going to work best and the more government, the more regulation that you pile on, the less the business owner – the small business owner, the families – have the ability to be free and make the judgment of how to spend their money the way they want to spend it.

Keyser’s refusal to answer questions on state issues came just five days after he resigned from the state house.

In a series of short questions about policy issues, Silverman asked Keyser, “Should we have in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children?”

Keyser (@7:30 below): You know what?  I don’t think we need to – that’s something that the Colorado voters, I think, have already discussed. But where my focus will be is National security. And Michael Bennet has been terrible on that.  You know, he wants open borders.  I mean, he just recently opposed some very commo- sense legislation to reform our immigration system and that would prevent radical Islamist terrorists from posing and masquerading as refugees coming to our country.

Keyser aligned himself with U.S. Senate Republicans when he told Silverman that Syrians should not be allowed in the U.S. for now because he doesn’t think they can be screened well enough at the present time.

Keyser expressed his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by Obama, which lifted economic sanctions while aiming to stop Iran from developing nuclear bombs.

Keyser said Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s vote in favor of the pact shows he “cares more about the Iranian economy than he does about the Colorado economy.” Ouchy.

In response to a question about global warming, Keyser said he thinks “the climate is changin, but the question is, how much, and to what extent human factors are contributing to that.”

Keyser, who also indicated he is for the death penalty but against most abortions, is part of a crowded field of about a dozen Republicans vying to take on Bennet.

Newsworthy and praiseworthy advice from Colorado’s Republican leader

January 31st, 2016

In a wide-ranging radio interview last week, Colorado GOP Chair Steve House had some newsworthy (and praiseworthy) advice for Colorado Republicans who seek to actually win elections:

  • Don’t just hate Obamacare but focus on solutions.
  • Don’t talk so much about gun rights and the 2nd Amendment.
  • Talk about education more–but no so much about charder schools.

House’s advice came during a discussion with KFKA 1310 AM’s Stacy Petty show about how Colorado Republicans have “got to start thinking a little bit differently on how we talk to people, especially the 490,000 or so unaffiliated or ‘leans right’ voters that we have got to make sure vote Republican, on top of our base in this coming election.”

First, “stop talking at every one of our discussions about the 2nd Amendment,” said House, adding that “we own that issue” and Democrats want Republicans fixating on it.

“You know, no matter what happens in the world, we’re not going to give up on our 2nd Amendment,” said House on air. ” We have defenders in RMGO and NRA and our sheriffs and other people.”

“So, what should we be talking about?” asked House, before answering his own question.  “And I suggested we should be talking about education, because I think it’s the number one issue for us as a state, for us as a Party.”

To do this, House suggests that Republican discussions go “beyond charter schools” in addressing education issues and put more emphasis on graduation rates and third-grade reading levels, which he cites as a reliable predictor of future individual success, a bedrock GOP value.

Similarly, House told Petty he’d like to see Republicans explain how to have the “right processes, regulatory structure, and incentives in place to see us solve some [health] problems.”

House says, for Republicans, “it’s not about hating Obamacare.”

This actually leaves the door open to improving it! How great would that be.

So at a time when the trending news analysis is obsessed with the “outsiders,” you can make a case that the real “outsider” thinking, at least among the die-hard Republican base voters, is reflected in a guy like House.

Or his predecessor Ryan Call, who calls out the “arrogance” of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and argues that Republicans need “to grow the coalition, even if people don’t agree with us 100 percent of the time.”

Those are the kinds of Republican messages that need to be elevated by reporters, in this dark moment of extremism and carpet-bombing outsiderism, to give Republicans themselves a wider window of the possibilities for escape and redemption.

Listen to Steve House on KFKA’s Stacy Petty Show 1.28.16

Reporters should expect Gardner to co-sponsor Life at Conception Act soon

January 28th, 2016

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner spent a good chunk of his election campaign telling us that the Life at Conception Act was really nothing more than a symbolic statement, when, in fact, it is federal personhood legislation that would ban all abortion, even for rape.

Gardner infamously described the Life at Conception Act, which he co-sponsored, this way, despite widespread objections by reporters:

Gardner: “The federal act that you are referring to is simply a statement that I believe in life.”

So you’d expect him to co-sponsor the U.S. Senate version of the bill, as he did in the House.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has just given him the chance, having introduced the Life at Conception Act just this week, as announced in a news release that described the legislation this way:

Paul: “The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore, is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. Only when America chooses, remembers, and restores her respect for life will we rediscover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”

But Gardner isn’t a co-sponsor yet.

I mischaracterized the Archbishop’s priorities on “life” issues, his spokeswoman says

January 28th, 2016

In response to a recent post in which I wrote that Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s priorities are GOP prioritiesKarna Swanson, Communications Director, Archdiocese of Denver, writes: 

It was unfortunate to see you mischaracterize the position of Archbishop Aquila on life issues in this blog post. You say, “Aquila’s priorities are GOP priorities.” 

Actually, the Archbishop is in lock-step with the priorities of Pope Francis that you mention, particularly immigration and the death penalty. His position against the death penalty is well known. See his column here on the issue.

“The problem with the death penalty,” he states, “is that in trying to solve the problem of violence, we take up violence as our tool. Christians need to stop the cycles of violence that erode our souls—we need to stop participating in the culture of death. Instead of deterring crime, the culture of death makes all of us more open to evil and violence and crime.” See his letter on immigration hereSee his column on the “Francis Option” here.

A top priority of Archbishop Aquila is life. And he supports people and organizations that promote life, and help all life to flourish.

Regarding Planned Parenthood, it’s a fact that according to their 2013-2014 report, the organization performed 327,653 abortions. To the Archbishop, and to Catholics, that is a loss of 327,653 lives. 

You can mislead with stats that show that Planned Parenthood “only” does so many abortions a year compared with other services they provide, but the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of lives are ended each year by this organization. It doesn’t matter what other redeeming qualities they may have, that number—327,653—cannot be ignored. That number means that Planned Parenthood is an organization that promotes death, not life.

For this reason, neither Pope Francis, nor Archbishop Aquila, nor any future archbishop, will ever be able to say, “Planned Parenthood mostly embodies what the Catholic Church stands for,” because the Catholic Church will always stand for life, at all stages, in every moment.

I told Swanson that I know and respect the Archbishop’s priority of life. But we all have to prioritize, even within the broad category of “life,” and I think banning abortion is a higher priority for Archbishop Aquila than the stopping the death penalty or addressing poverty. That’s what it looks like to me, from a distance. Hence, his priorities are in line with Republican prioriteis.

Colorado Republicans are not irrelevant! Close GOP prez primary puts spotlight on Colorado

January 26th, 2016

The irrelevancy of the Colorado Republican Party on the GOP presidential nomination process has apparently been exaggerated.

It’s been previously reported that after state Republicans eliminated their caucus straw poll last year, Colorado delegates could not pledge support to specific candidates prior to the Republican National Convention. In other words, Colorado GOP delegates would have to attend unbound to a candidate.

But this apparently isn’t true.

Republicans in Colorado can still pledge support for a Republican presidential candidate, if they state their intention to do so on a form that’s required to run for one of the 34 elected national-delegate spots. (Three additional Colorado delegates are determined by the Republican National Committee.)

The form, titled “National Delegate Intent to Run Form” must be submitted 13 days prior to the April 9 Republican State Convention or the April 8 Congressional District Convention, where delegates are selected for the national Republican Convention.

The form states:

I intend to stand for election as a candidate for National Delegate at the following convention(s):

□ Congressional District Convention – Congressional District #_

□ State Convention…

Full Name (please print): ___________________________

□ Pledged to Support Presidential Candidate: _____________

□ Unpledged.

As the University of Georgia’s Josh Putnam writes on his blog about the presidential nominating process:

That pledge is much more important than is being discussed.

Colorado has been talked about as a state that will send an unbound delegation to the national convention. That would only be the case if all the delegate candidates who file intent to run forms opted to remain unaffiliated with any presidential campaign. If those delegate candidates pledge to a presidential candidate and are ultimately elected to one of the 34 delegate slots (not counting the party/automatic delegates), then they are functionally locked in with that candidate if that candidate is still in the race for the Republican nomination.

They would be bound to those candidates at the national convention because the Colorado Republican Party bylaws instruct the party chair to cast the delegation’s votes at the national convention “in accordance with the pledge of support made by each National Delegate on their notice of intent to run”. Anywhere from 0 to 34 delegates could end up bound from the Colorado delegation to the Republican National Convention.

That is a real wildcard in the delegate count in Colorado and nationally.

So, the pledge option on the “intent-to-run” form for delegates opens the door for a showdown among Republicans who have bound themselves to different candidates.

It also opens the door for fierce competition among the presidential candidates to push supporters to the caucuses, where they will vote for State-Convention delegates or Congressional-District-Convention delegates who are committed to pledging their support to a specific presidential candidate. (Ron Paul supporters managed to do this in 2012.)

The intent-to-run form also presents a public-relations opportunity for presidental candidates whose supporters are selected as county assembly delegates on caucus night–and then quickly announce en masse that they’ve decided to bind themselves voluntarily to a particular candidate.

Putnam writes on his blog that the March 1 Republican caucuses put a “premium on organizing — turning out as many supporters as possible for the precinct caucuses and then getting those supporters through to the county assemblies. It is only that group of county assembly participants who are eligible to be national convention delegates…. if a campaign is able to corner the market and move through to the next step a bunch of its supporters, that candidate will have a decided advantage in the delegate allocation process. They would dominate the pool of potential candidates and maximize the number of delegates the campaign eventually wins.”

Putnam writes:

Rather than being a state with no preference vote that no one pays attention to, Colorado becomes a real delegate prize for the campaigns who are able to organize there. Those that gain an organizational advantage — and that is much more likely in a low turnout election without the incentive of a presidential preference vote — have a real opportunity to get something out of the Centennial state. It will not necessarily entail candidates coming into the state over the course March and into April (because forcing delegate candidates through to the county assembly level is the true mark of winning there), but it may make the media outlets pay continued attention to Colorado as the process there resolves itself. And since there is no preference vote guiding the delegate allocation process from step to step, a candidate could dominate in Colorado and come out on April 9 with a significant majority of delegates.

…In the conventional sense, candidates will not necessarily come to Colorado to drive up support for a March 1 vote that will not happen. That is doubly true in light of the fact that Colorado shares its precinct caucuses date with primaries and caucuses in 13 other states. Functionally though, with delegates potentially on the line, Colorado is certainly not a non-event.

Colorado Republican Chair Steve House apparently affirmed this process here.

So, bottom line, Colorado could see a major fight among the Republican presidential candidates to influence the vote for 34 National-Republican-Convention delegates, who will be selected at the April 9 GOP state convention and April 8 GOP congressional district convention.

Republican sources tell me that only Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are showing any sign of a ground game here in Colorado. But this may change in the coming weeks.

Former CO GOP chair thinks “in some ways” Tancredo wants him back

January 26th, 2016

Informed that radio host Peter Boyles wishes Ryan Call were back in charge of the Colorado Republican Party, former state GOP chair Ryan Call said on KNUS 710-AM Saturday:

Call: “To the extent I’ve ever heard Tom Tancredo acknowledge he’s wrong about something, I think in some ways, he’s done the same,” said Call.

Under fire from Tancredo and others, Ryan Call was not re-elected to lead Colorado Republicans last year. Tancredo was later part of a failed coup-like effort, led by State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, to remove Call’s replacement, Steve House.

On Craig Silverman’s KNUS 710-AM’s morning radio show Saturday, Ryan Call, who lost his bid to fill a House vacancy seat over the weekend, also endorsed Jeb! Bush. (Listen to a compilation of highlights from Call’s radio interview by clicking here.)

Call: “I understand the attraction that some voters have toward [Trump]…unapologetic in his arrogance and pettiness…but, Craig, anger is not a political platform,” Call told Silverman, who’s said he’s leaning toward Trump himself. “…If it were up to me, I’d vote for someone who has a tested true conservative record, someone you can really kick the tires on, who has demonstrated the kind of thoughtfullness and character that America needs. My vote would be for Jeb Bush.”

Ryan Call compared his own approach to politics to that of former GOP governor Bill Owens and former Sen. Hank Brown, saying those two and himself are “cut from the same cloth:”

Call: “Our orientation toward politics is to grow the coalition, even if people don’t agree with us 100 percent of the time,” said Call.