Archive for the 'Colorado State Legislature' Category

Where the candidates in Colorado’s most important race stand on specific issues

Monday, October 24th, 2016

In a welcome Denver Post piece Sunday about the most important election contests in Colorado—the under-the-radar races that will likely determine if Democrats take control of the state senate—State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada/Westminster) is referred to as “one of the most conservative lawmakers in the chamber.”

The Post article links to Post reporter John Frank’s detailed analysis of legislative votes showing how Woods, during her first year in office, voted with seven other GOP state senators on the far right fringe of the GOP, mirroring the marginalized votes of extreme Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

The linked article matters a lot, because Woods faces Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in an Arvada/Westminster race that’s a tossup going into the final two weeks, so voters should know what’s what with these two candidates.

Here’s a few more details on the candidates stands, retrieved from various sources.

Abortion

Woods wants to pass a personhood abortion ban, making all abortion illegal, even after rape or incest.

Zenzinger is pro-choice, favoring the option of abortion for women.

Guns

Woods opposes criminal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and elsewhere, and she wants citizens to be allowed to openly carry a gun in public.

Zenzinger backs laws requiring criminal background checks prior to gun purchases, and she opposes open carry.

Education

Woods backs vouchers, allowing parents to use public tax dollars to pay for private schools for their kids. (And Woods has been endorsed backed by ousted Jeffco school board member Julie Williams.)

Zenzinger opposes vouchers.

Planned Parenthood

Woods proposes de-funding Planned Parenthood, forcing the organization to turn away about 1,000 patients in Arvada.

Zenzinger supports federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Teen pregnancy

Woods voted against a successful teen-pregnancy prevention program.

Zenzinger backs the teen pregnancy prevention measure.

Same-sex marriage.

Woods opposes same-sex marriage.

Zenzinger supports it.

 

Woods apparently thinks twice about thanking Democrats

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Woods deleted Facebook postRepublican State Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada has removed a post from her Facebook page, in which she thanked alleged “supporters from the Democrat Party.”

It appears that Woods was referring to members of a Facebook group called, “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods,” who joined with Woods at a parade last month. “It was awesome to have you there,” Woods wrote on Facebook.

As I posted last week, none of the group’s members have been shown to actually live in Woods’ district and so they cannot vote for her, with one member registered to vote as far away as Boone, North Carolina.

Another group member, pictured on the site, was registered as a Republican, until asked about his voter registration last week, at which time he registered as a Democrat, saying it was a mistake.

Woods did not return a call seeking an explanation for removing the post.

In addition to possible concerns about the group’s members who can’t vote for her, Woods may worry that promoting Democrats on her site would turn away Trump supporters, whom she says are a key part of her path to victory in her district.

Woods, who’s long supported Trump and forgives him for his lewd comments, told a Denver radio station last week:

“I think if Donald Trump wins my district, I’m likely to,” Woods said on air. “And if Hillary Clinton wins my district, my opponent is likely to win.”

 

After saying she’d vote for Trump, Doty now tells Aurora Sentinel her vote is a “private decision”

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

While some Republicans who once supported Trump are now backing off, Colorado state senate candidate Nancy Doty, who previously said she’d vote for the GOP presidential nominee, is now refusing to reveal whom she will vote for, saying she considers “everyone’s vote to be a private decision.”

Doty’s latest position was reported by Brandon Johansson at the Aurora Sentinel, which published Doty’s answer to the question, “Will you vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or someone else?”

Doty’s response: Yes. I consider my vote private and everyone’s vote to be a private decision.

In June, Doty was out-of-the-closet with her voting preferences, as reported by Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent:

On her presidential preference, Doty said she will support the Republican nominee, although Donald Trump was not her first choice. She initially backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Then, in July, she said Sarah Palin’s Denver speech, in which Palin raved about Trump, was “spot on,” confirming that Doty herself still planned to vote for Trump.

So why the sudden silence on her prez pick? Both the Aurora Sentinel and the Colorado Independent should call her and find out what’s up–and set the record straight for their readers. (Doty did not return my call seeking an explanation, and she’s ignored queries from others on other issues.)

What led Doty, who faces Democratic Rep. Daniel Kagan in hotly contested SD 26, to first be open about her voting preference and then settle on the belief that “everyone’s vote” should be a “private decision?”

Who knows? Maybe Trump’s antics have something to do with it, but the inconsistency deserves to be exposed and explained.

Talk radio host shows how badly we need journalists to focus on key state senate race

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

With Colorado’s largest media outlets (TV and print) mostly AWOL when it comes to covering the most important race in the state this election season, we’re left to talk radio hosts, bloggers, and other shoe-string entities to offer voters the basic information they need to vote and understand what’s at stake Nov. 8.

So, how’s that working out? Not well.

Case in point, Republican State Sen. Laura Woods’ appearance this morning on KHOW 630-AM’s Ross Kaminsky show.

Kaminsky is smart enough to know that the Woods’ Arvada race against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger is probably the most important election contest in Colorado, with control of state government likely riding on the outcome. Yet, he sits silent or cheerleads as she makes outrageous statements, without offering context or fact-checking.

At one point, for example, Woods made the off-the-moon claim that her opponents who criticize her for forgiving Donald Trump for lewd comments are attacking Woods’ religious freedom. Woods is a longstanding Trump supporter.

“I’m being called out because I’ve chosen to forgive Donald Trump’s comments [about sexually assaulting women] and support him continually,” Woods told a loving Kaminsky. “So, that’s an attack on religious freedom.”

How’s that work? If you’re against Trump and his offensive bravado, you’re against religious freedom?

Kaminsky, who talked at length about attacks on Woods and spending on the Arvada race without mentioning Woods’ record on public lands or her moneyed backers, asked Woods what would happen if she lost her seat.

Woods said, under Democrats, “oil and gas and mining in our state shut down, those people put out of work.”  Shut down!

“[Democrats] are going to tell parents, you know, they have to vaccinate all of their children,” Woods continued on air.

How could Kaminsky have let this fly into his ears without words of horror coming out of his mouth?

Woods is known to be against basic public health protections when it comes to vaccinations. She wants to make it easier for parents to forgo vaccinating their kids—putting public health at risk. Voters need to know about where she stands.

Woods bragged about helping a couple get Medicaid health-care benefits, and Kaminsky failed to ask Woods how Woods’ story squares with her efforts to cut Medicaid health-care for the poor in Colorado.

Woods concluded the interview by calling Bill Clinton “a rapist,” to which Kaminsky responded not by pointing out the falsehood but instead with, “pretty courageous of you to say so, as someone running for office.”

“I wish you all the best,” concluded Kaminsky, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “And happy to have you back on the show anytime. Thanks again for everything you do for us in the state senate.”

Woods forgives Trump for comments about sexually assaulting women

Monday, October 17th, 2016

State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) has forgiven Trump for his comments about sexually assaulting women, according to an Associated Press story today, raising more questions for local media about the impact of Trump’s candidacy on Woods’ state senate race that will likely determine whether Democrats flip Colorado’s legislature in November.

Woods has made no secret of her longstanding support for Trump, calling him the “people’s candidate,” but her comments to the AP go further in explaining why she’s sticking with Trump: She does not believe she’ll win her district unless Trump carries it.

Here’s what Woods told the AP’s David A. Lieb:

Republicans currently hold a precarious single-seat advantage over Democrats in the Colorado Senate, while Democrats hold just a three-seat lead in the House. One of the most pivotal races is in Denver’s western suburbs, where Republican Sen. Laura Woods faces a rematch against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, who held the seat in 2014.

Woods says a Democratic-backed political group has targeted her in automated phone calls linking her to Trump. But Woods, a self-described Christian conservative, says she has forgiven Trump for his sexual comments and will not abandon him.

“I think if Donald Trump wins my district, I’m likely to,” Wood said. “And if Hillary Clinton wins my district, my opponent is likely to win.”

The comments could explain why Woods turned to Twitter to defend Trump after the Hollywood Access Video was released, retweeting a Breitbart story headlined, “Criminal Aliens Sexually Assault 70,000 American Women — But Paul Ryan Targets Trump.”

Woods unusual public effort to downplay the seriousness of Trump’s comments can be seen as an attempt to shore up Trump support in her own district, which she sees the key to her defeating Democrat Rachel Zenzinger next month.

Woods’ decision to openly forgive Trump, at least for his comments and possibly for his actual alleged sexual assaults, contrasts with other Colorado Republicans who openly declared after the release of the video that they will not vote for the mogul.

It makes for yet another interesting angle on Woods’ all-important state senate 19 race, which has yet to attract the attention it deserves from legacy media outlets.

woods-defending-woods-by-retweeting-breitbart

Major media outlets should fill information void, when candidates like Doty go into hiding

Friday, October 14th, 2016

It’s getting late in the election season, and major media outlets are still mostly overlooking the most important races in the state—in the swing senate districts that will determine whether Democrats gain control of the state senate and with it the reins of Colorado government.

When the major media bow out, the public is left to rely on campaign information, questionnaires, and small publications to fill the candidate-information void.

The problem is, some candidates easily and quietly blow off information requests, leaving the public with no idea where they stand.

For example, Out Front just came out with a story on the positions of key state senate candidates on LGBT issues.

One focus of the piece was the swing Senate District 26 race between Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, a Republican, and Democratic State Rep. Daniel Kagan.

Kagan answered questions from Out Front, and returned a questionnaire from One Colorado on LGBTQ issues.

Doty, however, did not.

“I reached out to [Doty] by email and gave her a few phone calls as well, which she never returned,” said Ryan Howe, Digital Content Director for Out Front.

Howe told me he didn’t report Doty’s refusal to respond, in part, because Doty also refused to return a questionnaire from One Colorado, a LGBTIQ rights group. And Howe’s story referenced One Colorado’s endorsement of Kagan, Howe pointed out.

One Colorado Political Director Laura “Pinky” Reinsch told me Doty did not respond to three email requests to return her organization’s questionnaire.

Major media would obviously have a better shot at getting Doty’s attention.  But with no coverage, voters are forced to grasp at shards of information and infer a candidate’s stance, in this case on LGBT issues.

While Kagan’s LGBT views are clear in his responses, one thing we know about Doty is she once gave money to Rick Santorum, who’s aggressively opposed to same-sex marriage, saying it’s unnatural, among other awful things.

“For me, when you say the states have the right to define marriage, it’s like saying, well, the states have the right to redefine the chemical equation for water, it can be H3O instead of H2O,” said Santorum earlier this year.

The point is, the down-ballot state senate races are really important, and we need the major media outlets to make sure the basic information is on the table for voters.

No Democrats eligible to vote for Woods are found on “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods” Facebook page

Friday, October 14th, 2016

woods-image-of-group-of-alleged-democrats-for-senator-laura-woodsArvada State Sen. Laura Woods is known to be on the far-right fringe of Colorado’s Republican Party, aligning herself, as documented by the Denver Post, with the most conservative lawmakers in the state.

She’s wants to ban abortion, even for rape. She’s opposed to criminal background checks before gun purchases, and she wants to slash health care funding for the poor, among other positions rub most Democrats the wrong way.

What’s more, she likes Trump so much she calls him the “people’s candidate.”

So it was surprising to hear Woods on the radio claiming “a lot” of Democrats will be voting for her.

Woods: “I’ve met a lot of Democrats who have said they‘re going to vote not only for Trump but for me as well. So, there’s even a Facebook page, Democrats for Senator Laura Woods. Wow.”

Wow, it’s true, there is such a group on Facebook, but the page does not support Woods’ statement that Democrats are going to vote for her. Not even close.

For starters, Clifford Battista, one of just eight people pictured as Democrats on the page, was a registered Republican until I asked him about his voter registration earlier this week, at which time he switched and became a Democrat, saying his Republican registration was a mistake. In any case, he doesn’t live in Woods’ district.

Neither does Robin Austin, another man pictured as a Democrat on the Facebook page. He’s actually a Democrat, but registered in Boone, North Carolina, where he owns a home, though he visits here frequently and it’s “conceivable” he will move to Colorado, he told me.

Three women who appear in photos carrying “Democrats 4 Laura” signs on the Facebook page also do not live in Woods’ district, where she’s battling Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in a race that will likely determine which party controls Colorado’s senate.

They are Luanne Fleming and her daughter, Leah Fleming, both Democrats, who reside in Aurora, and Athena Roe, an El Paso County Democrat.

I was unable to identify one man and two women among the eight people presented as Democrats on the Facebook page.

Asked if any of “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods” pictured on the Facebook page can actually vote for Woods, Luanne Fleming, who told me she posts on the page, said she doesn’t think any of them live in Woods’ district.

“There is one in her district, and he’s not on there, and he supports her,” said Fleming. “And his name is Marty. I haven’t gone over to get his picture or to put anything up there about him. I’m just so busy. So there is one who is from the district.”

“They are mostly the probate families that are helping her,” said Fleming, referring F.A.C.E.U.S., a group that, with Woods’ help in the legislature, has been pushing for reforms in the probate court system. “She’s one of the very few people who came to our aid.”

Austin, the North Carolina voter, was drawn to “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods” for the same probate-related reason, because she’s fighting the “corrupt judiciary,” he told me.

Asked how he felt about Woods relying on a Democrat from North Carolina to show she has Democrats voting for her, Austin said, “I don’t think it’s her choice who she is relying on. I think it’s my choice. Who I support.  And I support her.”

Battista, who was mistakenly registered as a Republican until I called him this week, was also drawn to Woods for her position on the court system, which has overriding importance to him. He told me he’d noticed some problems with his primary ballots, but he’s been too busy to check on his voter registration in recent years. He meant to separate from the Republican Party in about 2011, he said. He’s an active union member, and he worked for Athena Roe, who was a Democratic candidate in El Paso County, he said.

It’s unclear whether Woods, who does not return my calls, has other evidence to back up her claim of Democratic support in her Arvada district.

But Facebook posts touting Democratic support should be viewed with a skeptical eye by reporters and others.

“I want to thank all of my supporters from the Democrat party who showed up to walk with us in the parade today,” wrote Woods in a Facebook post Sept. 12, referring to members of “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods” who posted photos of the parade on their Facebook page.

“You are very welcome,” commented “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods, District 19” on Facebook.

But it appears that “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods” won’t be thanking the Arvada lawmaker with their votes, despite what you might think from looking at their Facebook page and listening to Woods on the radio.

——-

The above photo is a group pictured on the Democrats for Semator Laura Woods Facebook page. They are, from left to right, 1) Robin Austin, the Democrat from North Carolina, 2) Luanne Fleming, a Democrat from Aurora, 3) unknown man, 4) in back, unknown woman, 5) Charles Battista of Denver 6) Athena Roe, a Democrat from El Paso County.

On KNUS 710-AM Sept. 17, Woods discusses her alleged voters from the Democratic Party, as evidenced by the Facebook page “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods.”

Below, Leah Fleming, a Democrat from Aurora, is pictured with Laura Woods on the “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods” Facebook page.

woods-image-of-woods-with-leah-fleming-of-aurora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correction: This blog post initially stated that Woods represents a district in northwest Denver. It’s not in Denver.

No pushback from radio host when anti-choice lawmaker insists it’s Dems who want to tell you how to “run your families”

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

You’d assume a news reporter like Fox 31 Denver’s Julie Hayden would challenge someone like State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) when Woods tells Hayden something like this during Hayden’s radio show on KNUS 710-AM:

Hayden (at 2:45 here): Why is it so important that you get back up there to the state legislature?

Woods: The Democrats desparately want to control everything about our lives. And so they need to control the senate, in order to control your life and mine and every business in this state… If we want to have any liberty, any say in how we run our families, in say in how we run our privately held small businesses, we need to keep the senate in Republican hands.

If you thought Hayden would push back on this, even an itsy bit, you would be wrong. Nothing but nodding acquiescence from her–even though Woods is locked in a tough re-election battle against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger to represent senate district 19.

So I put this out there for Hayden to read on her KNUS show.

Dear KNUS Listeners–

State Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada appeared on our KNUS Show last month and claimed Democrats “desparately want to take control of everything about our lives.”

In fact, in at least one important way, it’s Woods who wants to do this.

She wants to ban all abortion, even for women who’ve been raped or are victims of incest. Woods’ anti-choice stance has been a focus of her political career. She sponsored personhood anti-abortion legislation. She backed a bill requiring doctors to offer women an ultrasound before an abortion.

Woods wants to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, forcing the womens’ health organization to turn away about 1,000 low-income patients at an Arvada clinic in Woods’ own district.

So, my dear KNUS audience, next time Woods appears on the radio and says Democrats want to tell you how to “run your families,” I’ll tell her to turn off the microphone, go to the bathroom, and look in the mirror.

Thank you.

I’ll be listening to Hayden on KNUS this Saturday to see if she takes me up on my suggestion to read this.

Woods’ long ride on the Trump train could hand the state senate to the Dems

Monday, October 10th, 2016

State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) first tiptoed onto the Trump train in January, when she called Trump one of her two favorite presidential candidates.

Then Woods jumped fully on board in August, when she called Trump the “people’s candidate” and said “running away” from him wasn’t even a consideration.

In case you’re wondering whether Trump’s shocker room talk, from the Access Hollywood video, will push Woods out of the Trump train, you will want to know that Woods is apparently staying on board.

Over the weekend, Woods, whose race against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger will likely determine control of the state senate and with it state government, liked a Facebook post of Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction).

Scott, who’s a regional field coordinator for Trump’s campaign, wrote:

I have no intention of dropping my support for Trump. Here’s why.

I’m trying real hard to remember a perfect President or for that matter anyone that has run for political office.

As Alexander Haig once said, no one has a monopoly on virtue. I don’t agree with all of Trump’s positions or comments by any means. I support his economic plan, ending the war on fossil fuels, his stance on defense, immigration, the 2nd amendment and trade issues….

Scott’s Facebook post, which I obtained from a source, has “likes” from about 50 people, including Woods and Peggy Littleton, the failed GOP U.S. Senate primary candidate.

So it looks like Woods is still comfy in her seat on the Trump train. But will voters be comfortable with her in it?

In a news post for Rewire.news today, I discuss one advertisement linking Woods to Trump, and offer an interview with one expert who thinks the tactic could work, helping to push Woods out of office in November.

Woods likes Scott's Facebook post

Take two: Doty now says she’s against the hospital provider fee

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported earlier this year that Republican state senate candidate Nancy Doty had yet to formulate a stance on whether state lawmakers should reclassify the hospital provider fee as an enterprise fund, freeing up over $300 in tax money for roads, schools, and other projects. Goodland reported:

The hospital provider fee isn’t a subject that has come up on the campaign trail, Doty indicated, and although she comes from a strong financial background, she admitted she isn’t quite up to speed on the issue and needs to spend more time looking into it.

“The ironic thing is that we’re talking about money that will solve all the issues once the transfer takes place. I don’t know if that’s the answer,” she said.

Doty’s “strong financial background,” referenced by Goodland, includes being chief financial officer under Gov. Bill Owens.

So how could she not have an opinion on the hospital provider fee, given that it’s one of the top issues facing the state legislature?

Especially now that conservatives have started attacking State Rep. Daniel Kagan, who’s Doty’s Democratic opponent in senate district 26 race, for supporting reclassification of the fee. Surely, Doty is aware of these attacks.

I decided to confirm that she still holds no opinion, as reported by the Independent.

I talked to Doty last week prior to an event at Las Brisas restaurant in Greenwood Village, and she declined to comment on the recent attack on Kagan over the hospital provider fee.

“I haven’t done that, so it’s not my campaign,” Doty said.

Asked if she had a position, Doty said, “I’m against it.”

I didn’t get to ask Doty for details, as she was about to speak at her event, so I don’t know when or why she formulated her stance on the issue. But it raises lots of questions about why she’d be opposed to a tax-free source of funds for roads, schools, etc. etc.

She may have struggled with her stance against the fee in her role as board member of the South Metro Chamber of Commerce, which voted–apparently over Doty’s opposition–to support legislation reclassifying the hospital fee as an enterprise under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR).

The Kagan-Doty race is widely seen as one of the most important state contests this year, with Republicans holding to a one-seat majority in the Colorado senate. A Doty victory would almost certainly thwart the Democrats efforts to take over the state senate chamber, even if State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) loses her race to Democratic challenger Rachel Zenzinger.

So, needless to say, it’s important for the public to know Doty’s positions on major issues, like the hospital provider fee, especially when she’s told a reporter that she has no position.

Now we know.