Media omission: Sonnenberg will decide “by the first of next week” on a U.S. Senate run

October 8th, 2015

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg will decide “by the first of next week,” whether he’ll join the Republicans seeking the party’s nomination to take on Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet next year.

In an interview yesterday, Sonnenberg said he’s been “looking at” running for “several months” but was waiting on “George Brauchler’s decision” before deciding whether to enter the race himself.

“I’ve spent the past week meeting with a number of people in Denver,” he said, adding that he anticipates “having a decision by the first of next week.”

“Michael Bennet’s numbers look worse than Mark Udall’s did a year out,” he said. “I see that as an opportunity to have two Republican senators from Colorado.”

In addition to Sonnenberg, talk-radio host Dan Caplis is “very serious” about a run. And Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race. Already in are state Sen. Tim Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Parker mayor Greg Lopez. Staten Sen. Ray Scott is rumored to be a likely candidate.

Media omission: GOP Senate primary heats up on Facebook

October 7th, 2015

After State Sen. Ray Scott’s name was floated on Facebook as a possible candidate to take on Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton stood up for his guy, Sen. Tim Neville.

“I don’t see anyone beating Tim in the primary, and I don’t see Ray as a threat,” wrote Everett. “Especially because Sonnenberg will probably get in as well, and they’d probably be competing with each other for the rural vote.”

To which, Ray Scott replied, “Tunnel vision only applies when you’re in a tunnel.”

Everett then wrote: “Reality based on 20 years political experience from being paid staff on state-wide campaigns, tight with consultant class, to doing high dollar fundraising for the RNC [Republican National Committee]. I got creds.”

“I’m friends with Ray and Jerry, but the fact is, this is a battle. If you are going to take on Michael Bennet, you have to have a proven candidate,” Everett told me when asked about the Facebook post.

But how does he know Sonnenberg is even likely to run?

“I call it the rule of three. I’ve heard from three people  that Jerry flat-out said he would run,” said Everett, adding that the three people are from different groups.

In a telephone interview, Sonnenberg told me that, in fact, he had not yet decided to enter the Senate race.

He confirmed that he’s been “looking at” running for “several months” but was waiting on “George Brauchler’s decision” before deciding whether to enter the race himself.

“I’ve spent the past week meeting with a number of people in Denver,” he said, adding that he anticipates “having a decision by the first of next week.”

“Michael Bennet’s numbers look worse than Mark Udall’s did a year out,” he said. “I see that as an opportunity to have two Republican Senators from Colorado.”

As for Scott, Everett says he’s heard from other sources that Scott is serious about the race, and Everett points to the fact that Scott himself “chimed in” during the Facebook exchange as further confirmation of this.

Scott did not return a call for comment. I’ll update this blog post if he does.

In response to a commenter who called Ray a “good candidate,” Everett wrote on Facebook: “Performance matters. Ray hasn’t raised money from anyone or PACS. Tim has… My horse [Neville] knows how to win a race and is battle tested. Ray has never had a competitive race. Tim Neville, no better horse out there.”

Everett told me Neville can win based on the “Ken Buck Model of 2010 when he beat Jane Norton.” Buck went on to nearly defeat Bennet in the general, despite mistakes by national Republicans, he told me.

“There’s a path for victory for Tim, not only in the primary, but in the general,” said Everett, adding that Buck was way outspent by Norton and still won.

“Tim is smart enough to get good people behind him and raise money,” continued Everett. “He knows how to do direct mail, micro-targeting, voter ID. They know how to run campaigns, and they’ve been successful in primaries. He’ll work his butt off. He’s authentic. He’s in an excellent position to win the primary. Is this a battle Republicans want to fight? Or should they coalesce around Tim?”

In addition to Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Parker mayor Greg Lopez have already announced their intention to seek the GOP spot against Bennet. Attorney Dan Caplis is “very serious” about a run, and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race.

 UPDATE: The first version of this blog did not include a response from Sonnenberg. It is not included.

KNUS talk-radio host Dan Caplis “very serious” about U.S. Senate run

October 5th, 2015

On Channel 12′s “Colorado Inside Out” Friday, Westword Editor Patty Calhoun seemed to surprise moderator Dominic Dezzutti when she said Denver radio host Dan Caplis is considering a U.S. Senate run against Democrat Michael Bennet.

“Tim Neville, who announced [his U.S. Senate candidacy] yesterday, a conservative, leaves a lot of room for someone else to jump in,” said Calhoun in response to Dezzutti’s question about the Colorado Senate race. “The most interesting one I’ve heard lately is, Dan Caplis is looking again at a race.”

“I appreciate Patty saying that because it’s true,” Caplis told me this afternoon when I called to confirm. “I absolutely have a serious interest.”

Caplis, a Denver attorney and longtime radio personality, told me he was fully behind the potential candidacy of George Brauchler, and thinks Brauchler would make a great senator. But when Brauchler decided against running last week, Caplis decided to consider entering the race himself, he said.

“I just need to make sure it’s the right thing for our family first,” said Caplis, whose talk show airs on KNUS 710-AM. “And then, beyond that, I’ll just take a good hard look at whether this is the way to make the best contribution that I can. I mean, that’s what most people try to do. That’s what I’m trying to do. Is this the best way to do that?”

Caplis will announce his decision in six to eight weeks after meetings and further thought, he said, promising not to “drag out” the decision.

Caplis’ name was floated in 2009 as a possible opponent for Sen. Michael Bennet. And back in 2007, Caplis spent a couple months traveling the state and talking with folks about whether to run against Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar.

“It would hard to be a lot more serious than we were about it before,” said Caplis when asked if he was more serious this time around. “Honestly, we were very close to getting in before. It’s pretty much the same this time. I’m very serious about it, but I have to make sure, first and foremost, that it’s right for the family.”

“Beyond that, I think it’s pretty clear that a person can make a pretty big contribution as a U.S. Senator, if they are willing to do what it takes to make that contribution. And I think there’s a lot at stake in this election.”

Asked if he’s more like Ken Buck or Cory Gardner, Caplis said, “Don’t box me in. Don’t put any labels on me. That’s one of the reasons I’d love to run this race, is to do it the right way. Stand up and tell people what you really believe and what you are really going to do and not get boxed in by labels or any of that. And if people want me, they want me. And if they don’t, they don’t. But if I run this race, it’s going to be a race unlike people have seen before.”


Post interview spotlights Brauchler falsehood that he was “one vote away” from getting death sentence in Aurora trial

October 2nd, 2015

Excellent reporting today by The Denver Post’s Jordan Steffen, who breaks the news that three jurors in the Aurora theater trial voted affirmatively for life in prison, according to one of the three jurors, who was previously thought to have been undecided.

Steffen’s interview is beautifully written, giving you a great sense of the juror’s struggles and a journalist’s experience talking to her, but what caught my eye, as someone who listened to prosecutor George Brauchler repeatedly say he was “one vote away” from getting the death penalty, were these three paragraphs:

“There were three,” [the juror] said. “Not one.”

…Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler has said he wouldn’t second-guess his decision to pursue the death penalty because of one juror’s position that led to the life sentence.

Last week, he said all of the deliberating jurors he’s spoken with have indicated that Juror 17′s account was accurate. He conceded that he hadn’t met with all of them.

More of an explanation from Brauchler would have been nice, because you have to wonder why a man of his intelligence and intensity would deliver rotten information about the jury count, without at least saying he wasn’t sure or acknowledging, as  juror 17 had clearly said after the trial, that juror 17 was against the death sentence and two jurors were undecided. That’s obviously three, not one, votes away from conviction.

Maybe Brauchler, who subsequently announced he wouldn’t challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, was just trying to make himself look good? But as a veteran prosecutor, he had to know that his misinformation could be hurting real people.

Steffen reported that the juror he interviewed ended “her silence because she could no longer bear to watch the weight of public scrutiny — what she described as a ‘witch hunt’ — fall solely on the shoulders of her fellow juror.”

Brauchler was partly responsible for the witch hunt, as today’s Post piece makes clear.



Media omission: Adams County GOP chair seeths at “cowardly, traitors known as ‘Republicans’”

October 2nd, 2015

Journalists aren’t reporting the seething anger of Colorado’s Tea Party conservatives at their Republican leaders for allowing the federal government to continue operating and/or for caving on what they see as GOP priniciples.

It’s an important story not only because it offers a tangible angle to explain the rise of The Donald and his ilk, but also because it shows the stress within the Republican Party  here in Colorado, as state party chair Steve House continues to face intense criticism from within.

I write a lot about talk-radio hosts, but but it’s not just the talk-radio hosts who are mad, but also folks like Anil Mathai, Chair of the Adams County Republican Party. He had this to say on Facebook:

MATHAI: The Republican Party in Washington DC has just passed a spending bill – understand they would rather Hussein Obama get everything he wants including funds to kill thousands of unborn children. WE HAVE THE HOUSE AND SENATE AND OBAMA GETS EVERYTHING HE WANTS – WHAT UTTER MADNESS!!!!! The Republican Party has become no different from the Democrat Party! Instead of supporting most of its voters, they decide to support evil and corrupt cronies. If the leadership and direction doesn’t change ASAP, we will have a Communist President in Nov 2016 and the cowardly, traitors known as “Republicans” will have the party collapse because of their arrogance. It is time to primary every RINO right now, it is time to clean house by demanding “republicans” actually support the US Constitution and the Republican platform. Sick and tired of the democrats in our party!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! 3000 more children will die today because there is no Republican party who will help them and follow our written documents of first defending LIFE then LIBERTY then Pursuit of Happiness but instead must avoid a “government shutdown”!! GOVERNMENT over LIFE – TREASONOUS!!!!! Time for pitch forks and removal of “leaders” starting first with Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and every Republican that voted today to fund abortion instead of “shutting down the government” and listen to most Americans on ending the evil Planned Parenthood. CORRUPT COWARDS!!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!! [BigMedia emphasis.]

Mathai is the Republican leader of one of the most important counties in the state going into next year, in light of its surprise tilt toward Republicans in the last election.

And Mathai’s Adams County vice-chair, John Sampson, also doesn’t shy away from controversy, as you can see here and here.

Asked about the Facebook post, Mathai said, “The context is, the Republicans need to be consistent with the party platform. What people want is trust. We are all Americans, and people want trust back in their party.”

Also upset, Derrick Wilburn, the Vice Chair of the state Republican Party, said this on KLZ’s Rush to Reason show Sept. 30.

WILBURN:  Here’s what these guys don’t realize – Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, Michael Coffman — I mean, not just our state but all over the country – if they started standing up for those things, if they started taking that position – If they started sticking it back and saying, “we aren’t going to take it anymore!”  You know what would happen?  We would meet them at the airport when they come back home into the district.  We’d be standing there with signs, cheering them, calling them heroes! …It would happen everywhere!  It would happen all over the country!

Asked to explain, Wilburn texted that he wasn’t talking about shutting down the government but instead about GOP leaders standing up for principles.

The sentiments of these elected GOP leaders in Colorado should be aired out by outlets with bigger audiences than this humble blog. It’s a local window into the forces that are shaping Colorado’s Republican Party and having a actual factual impact on who will be the next president. In other words, this isn’t just hot air. It’s oxygen for the insurgents in the Republican Party.

With collapse of Rand Paul, Dudley Brown may be cash cow for Tim Neville

October 1st, 2015

Journalists have raised doubts about whether State Sen. Tim Neville, who’s expected to announce his campaign against Sen. Michael Bennet today, can raise the $10 million or more required to unseat the well-financed Democratic uncumbant. It’s a reasonable question, for sure, but recent political shifts could be opening bank accounts for Neville that were locked just months ago.

Colorado’s own Dudley Brown has had close ties to the collapsing presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (See joint photo.). Paul has signed fundraising appeals for Brown, which so pissed off the National Rifle Association (NRA) that the NRA didn’t even invite Paul to an NRA Leadership Forum, which was attended by 12 GOP presidential hopeufls in April.

Brown may now be looking for a new gun-loving federal candidate prop up with millions of dollars. And that lucky candidate could be Neville, whose close ties to Dudley are not in dispute as you can read below if you need to.

But does Dudley have that kind of money? Well, he’s president of the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), which raised over $16 million in 501c4 political-attack funds, according to its lastest-available federal filing. It’s impossible to know how much of that dark money could be diverted to Colorado’s Senate race, but the money is big. And for what it’s worth, back in 2013, Dudley said his organization would spend at least $1 million on campaigns.

Dudley is also executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), which played a key role in organizing recall campaigns and in mobilizing voters in senate primaries in Jefferson County. It’s credited for pushing State Sen. Laura Woods to actual victory last year. So there’s that.

Everyone knows Brown loves Neville, and vice versa, and it goes beyond their mutual dream of eliminating all background checks on anyone who purchases any gun anywhere, in this life or the next.

Tim Neville’s son, Joe, was hired as the lobbyist for RMGO, and less known is the fact that Joe Neville is also director of political affairs for NAGR.

And Neville may owe his first legislative victory to Brown, who went all in to help Neville win a 2011 vacancy committee appointment, to replace Sen. Mike Kopp. In a mean campaign, Neville beat his neighbor, then GOP State Rep. Jim Kerr.

Later, during his during his 2014 campaign against Democratic encumbant Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, Neville was endorsed by RMGO PAC and boasted about his ties to RMGO .

Neville stated on his website: “As a proud member of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, I was honored to defend your Second Amendment rights in the Colorado State Senate last year… I was proud to sponsor ‘Constitutional Carry’ legislation and be recognized by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners as the strongest defender in the legislature of your Second Amendment rights.”

That kind of talk may translate into the cash Neville needs to have a shot at Bennet. At least in theory. But money is just one obstacle for a conservative like Neville in Colorado.

Media omission: On radio, Republican chair again takes moderate position and praises stem cell research

September 28th, 2015

On a couple of ocassions, Colorado GOP Chair Steve House has stated publicly that Rep. Gorden Klingenschmitt doesn’t speak for the Republican Party. Last week, for example, after Rep. Gorden Klingenschmitt called Allah a “false god,” House told 9News:

 “House: Representative Klingenschmitt has a Constitutional right to free speech,” House wrote in a statement. “However, as I’ve said several times in the past, Gordon does not speak on behalf of our Party, and his hurtful words do not represent our values.”

Last week on KNUS 710-AM’s “Rush to Reason,” House supported stem cell research, a view that’s also not shared by all in the GOP.

Stem cells are obtained from zygotes, or fertilized human eggs. Some Republicans, including Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, want to ban stem cell research because they consider zygotes to be a human life, even if the zygotes are obtained from fertizilization clinics that would otherwise dispose of them. (Even “pluripotent stem cells,” which are sometimes used in research and are derived from adult stem cells, are grown using embryonic stem cells for comparison purposes.)

As 9News reported in 2013: “This year, Congressman Coffman was asked point blank by Colorado Right to Life, ‘Will you oppose any research or practice that would intentionally destroy the tiniest living humans, embryonic stem cell research?’ With a pen he wrote, ‘Yes.’”

On the radio Sept. 22, House included stem-cell research as part of an “optimistic view of technology” that should be part of the “GOP message.”

House: I think the next decade and a half will be the greatest decade of innovation in American history. Just reading recently about stem cell research. And how they can create brain cells. They’re trying to deal with Alzheimer’s. A lot of people don’t realize that Alzheimer’s is a $174,000 cost to manage an Alzheimer’s patient. And cost is not the major factor.

Host John Rush: But the cost is there.

House: It’s such a tough disease. They’ve figured out how to have stem cells create brain cells. So now they are doing testing on brain cells created by stem cells, so they can try to figure out drugs to slow down the progression of the disease. And $174,000 for a lifetime cost and rising, Alzheimer’s by itself could bankrupt America flat-out because of aging. So there’s some really amazing stuff going on right now with technology that we haven’t talked about. It’s advancing so fast that we could do a radio show almost every week and we wouldn’t not keep up.

Steve House on KNUS 710-AM’s Rush to Reason, with John Rush, Sept. 22, 2015

House answers reasonable questions on talk radio

September 25th, 2015

After all he’s been through, you wouldn’t think Colorado GOP Chair Steve House would ever again breathe into a talk-radio microphone. But, lo, he’s made three recent appearances, taking questions from hosts and callers about topics ranging from the weedy (party finances) and the salacious (his alleged affair) to the elite (GOP debate at CU) and the ridiculous (Trump).

And, despite the hits he took recently from talk-radio hosts, House even gives a shout out to radio itself, saying he “absolutely” thinks it’s a good medium (KNUS at 12:20).

  • Let me write about the alleged affair first, because why not? He denied it again, and, in fact, there’s still no proof he had one, and so what anyway? Edgar Antillon, who joined House during one interview, also discussed old rumors that Antillon had multiple wives, and Antillon and House said these private issues shouldn’t matter (KFKA, part 2, at 11 min).
  • Discussing the weedy, as in party finance issues, House claimed that things are getting better, with bills being paid down and a previously unsecured loan now secured (KFKA part 2 at 34:35). (GOP activists continue to distrust House on on financial and other matters, as you can read here.)
  • With respect to the CU debate, House said there’s a great after party planned, and the limited ticket offerings are due to the networks concerns about an unruly cowd (KFKA part 2 at 29:30)
  • OnTrump, House promised to support him if he wins the primary, though he sounds like he doesn’t support him.

House remains in the middle of a Republican brawl in Colorado, and, yet, he’s on the radio. I give him credit for that, and the hosts credit for conducting reasonable interviews. I’m looking forward to more.

Listen to Steve House on KNUS’ Rush to Reason and on KFKA’s Stacy Petty Show here.


Media omission: CU tops CSU when it comes to responding to pressure from GOP Congressman

September 23rd, 2015

Reporters should take note of the different responses, one by Colorado State University and the other by two University of Colorado campuses, to Rep. Doug Lamborn’s pressure to halt the acquisition of fetal tissue from two companies–as well as to the GOP Congressman’s demand that all NIH-funded research using fetal tissue be stopped.

Back in July, under pressure from Lamborn, Colorado State University President Tony Frank embarrassed his institution by suspending the purchase of fetal-tissue from two suppliers until vague “congressional investigations are concluded.” Never mind that such investigations rarely have anything to do with guilt or innocence–and everything to do with politics.

In Aug., Lamborn turned his attention to the University of Colorado at Denver, demanding information on whether it also uses two fetal-tissue suppliers, StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources, both of which are under attack by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress for obtaining tissue from Planned Parenthood.

In response, the University of Colorado Medical School and the University of Colorado at Denver, in a joint response, stated that they did not obtain fetal tissue from those the two companies.

And if they did, they wouldn’t stop unless rules or regulations had been violated. As Richard Traystman, the University of Colorado Medical School’s Director of Research, told me, for an RH Reality Check Post:

“At this moment we’re not [using those companies], but we will if we need to. We do have other sources, as I’ve said, but those are the two major companies that many investigators order from.”

Both CSU and the CU campuses told Lamborn they would not halt NIH funded fetal research. As Traystman put it:

“It’s not acceptable to stop research using cells from fetal tissues. In my letter, I gave examples of where these sorts of fetal cells are used in research on certain diseases. They are very often used in research on diseases of the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, a variety of diseases that involve brain abnormalities and diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, for example. They are also used in research on the heart and cardiac tissue and to create vaccines. I could go on.”


If you’re scared of Muslims, bash them anonymously on my radio show, host suggests

September 23rd, 2015

On the national stage, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is standing by his comment that a Muslim should not be president.

And deep in the bottom-feeding waters of Colorado Springs talk radio, it gets worse.

Apparently inspired by Carson, KVOR radio host Richard Randall launched into a tirade against Muslims yesterday. He begged listeners to send him questions to read on air and join him in his bigotry, saying:

Randall: “It’s a sensitive topic. You can always do it anonymously. You’re afraid that some Muslim is gong to find you or your kids and do something evil to you. That’s not abstract. Feel free to call in anonymously. Or you can text it in.”

If you’re trying to explain the awfulness of Carson, listen to Randall. The two are directly connected, and we should all take a moment to call it out, as The Denver Post did today. Tell your kid about it. Tell someone, anyone, you hate this and why, in the same way we would if Randall and Carson used “Christian” or “Jew” instead of “Muslim.”