Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

Fact Check: Keyser blames SOS for ballot fiasco, but he made the error

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

U.S. Senate candidate John Keyser is blaming his campaign’s initial failure to qualify for the GOP primary ballot on a “bureaucrat” in the CO Secretary of State’s Office.

Keyser: “It was an interesting week. It wasn’t too dramatic for us. We had double and triple-checked our signature process and everything…. We had a secretary of state that said we had a problem. We were a few signatures short in one of the congressional districts. But we knew we were okay. We were very confident about that. It took a couple days, but I’m on the ballot now and ready to beat Michael Bennet.

Connell: What was the confusion…

Keyser: We had a guy who was working for us for months, collecting signatures. He did a great job, doing that. Now the secretary of state, not actually the secretary of state, but a bureaucrat that works in that office decided that he couldn’t quite tell who that person was, whether in fact he was a registered voter. He was of course. He had been registered as a Republican for years and everything. We know we didn’t have any issue there. Unfortunately, we had to go to court to take care of it, but were’ moving on.

Here’s what actually happened, per The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews:

Keyser missed the mark in one congressional district because the address for one of the petition collectors did not match the registered voter file, as required by law. [BigMedia emphasis]

So the evil bureaucrat in the secretary of state’s office was just following the law!

A judge later determined that the Keyser campaign made the error, but she determined that Keyser came close enough to following the rules that she let his name appear on the ballot–in the interest of giving voters a choice. Close call for Keyser. If he had been following the rules, he wouldn’t have needed the judge’s decision.

So Keyser’s “double” and “triple” checking did not uncover the error, which was discovered by the secretary of state’s office. Despite this, Keyser tries to blame a government official who was just following the law.

Connell should make an on-air correction, stating that Keyser delivered misinformation on her show.

Listen to Jon Keyser on the Mandy Connel Show May 2, 2016

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/on-radio-gop-us-senate-candidate-keyser-blames-sos-for-signature-fiasco

Journalists correctly see challenges faced by candidate who “needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive”

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

In its report on a Denver judge’s decision to allow U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the Republican primary ballot, after the Secretary of State had rejected his petitions, The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews reported:

Once considered a favorite in the race, Keyser must now overcome other challenges that are injecting questions into this campaign not least among them, the fact he needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive. [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s unclear just how much of a liability Keyser’s signature-gathering fiasco will be, but the reporters were correct to write that it raises questions–as yet unexplored in detail by journalists–about whether Keyser’s short stint on the campaign trail and in public service has shown him to be competent not only to run a campaign but to be an effective U.S. Senator, to replace Democrat Michael Bennet.

Keyser’s Republican colleague in the Colorado State House, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton, jumped on Facebook last week to write that Keyser “isn’t ready for prime time,” as evidenced by Keyer’s fundraing troubles, problematic petitions, and other bungles.

Everett: Not to say he won’t cure, suers gonna sue. But what’s interesting here is how close he was in Congressional District 1 (20 signatures), in heavily Republican CD5 (a mere 76 signatures), and CD 6 (75 signatures). If another candidate were to contest the validity of those Congressional Districts, he may be deemed insufficient in other areas. Not to mention his announcement claim that he had $3 million pledged to his campaign but only raised $200K, while contributing $100K of his own money. After serving with him for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time…

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

If you couple that statement with the campaign lapses, you have a bunch of unanswered questions about Keyser’s basic competency that need to be addressed by reporters as the campiagn gears up.

Will choice matter in Colorado U.S. Senate race?

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

In a radio interview yesterday, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Robert Blaha said choice is “not going to be an issue” in in Colorado’s U.S. Senate campaign because women are “really smart” and will not be concerned about Blaha’s opposition to all abortion, even for rape and incest (unless the mother’s life is in danger).

For perspective, I dredged up this video of Bennet arguing with then Weld Country District Attorney Ken Buck on the topic of abortion.

Blaha argues that he can turn the issue against Bennet by bringing up his support for partial-birth abortion, a rare procedure performed only when serious medical issues warrant it.

Watch the video above, and read Blaha’s comments below, and tell me if  smart women will side with Bennet or a candidate like Blaha. Reporters should keep the comparison in their pockets for November’s campaign trail.

Robert Blaha on the Dan Caplis Show – KNUS, 710am – April 20, 2016

Blaha: You know, people have got to realize that women — my women, the women I know — are really smart. And they think about far more than just the issues of abortion. That’s one issue of five or six or seven that move them. So, you know, I’m a pro-life candidate. I’m proud of that. I don’t move off of that, and I have an exception for the woman’s life. But besides staying on message, I don’t think you’ve got to back off a bit, because that issue — that singular issue — was a winner in ’10, it was a winner in ’11. It wasn’t an issue in ’12. ‘13 and ’14 and it’s not going to be an issue in ’16. It’s not a winning issue for the far left.

Caplis: Yeah, and I think if handled right, it backfires on him, because –.

Blaha: Exactly!

Caplis: and I think you are one of a number of candidates in the field who have the high intelligence and the verbal skills to, you know, just turn it on Bennet in a hurry, because he is the true extremist. And when you have the verbal skills you do, you know, you can pin him down. He supports late-term abortion through labor and delivery. And at that point he goes from looking like some kind of moderate to some kind of monster, so–.

Blaha: And, you know, I’m a — because of what I do for a living –I’m a stats guy. I am a data guy. I’m a numbers guy. You know, we can look at poll after poll, we can look at anything. When Michael Bennet and his ilk want to explain why it’s okay to kill somebody in their third term, near the end of a birth. When they can explain that to America and they can get America to embrace that, then I’ll worry about whether, you know, — whether he’s got a better position than I. Because he doesn’t. His position, actually, is the extreme position. Our position is not.

Are Republicans already giving up on Bennet race?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

After State Sen. Tim Neville was surprisingly knocked out of the Republican battle for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, State Sen. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) took to Facebook to lament:

Everett: “Sadly, our only chance to defeat Michael Bennet is no longer in the race. Thank you, Tim, we know you will always be on the front lines in the fight for freedom and liberty. God bless you and your family.”

Reporters might write off Everett’s comment as despondency after a shocking loss by Neville, whom Everett was obviously backing. But judging from the first quarter fundraising numbers, showing that none of the GOP primary candidates are, in Politico reporter Eli Stokols’ words, “really crushing it,” you have the privilege of wondering if Republicans are starting to join with Everett in thinking the race has already been won by Bennet, who’s sitting there with $7.6 million in the bank.

As The Denver Post put it:

No one in the crowded Republican field looking to unseat [Bennet] has reported more than $1 million cash-on-hand, and whoever emerges from the five-way fight likely will drained of resources just trying to win the June 28 primary.

The GOP fundraising leader, Jack Graham,the former CSU athletic director, dropped $1 million on his own campaign, and has, as ColoradoPols pointed out, more money in the bank “than the rest of the Republican field put together.”

Anything can happen, and big campaign spending may flow from 527 groups still unknown. But with the Colorado Republicans’ A-Team out of the race before they got in it, and the remaining B-Team not catching fire money-wise or otherwise, it’s a legitimate question for reporters to ponder: When will the toll of layers of candidates, piled upon divisiveness and Democratic unity, against the backdrop of an improving economy and even an increasingly popular president, make Republicans say, hmm, maybe we should throw our time and money elsewhere.

Woods and Neville fail to stop teen-pregnancy-prevention program

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

On a voice vote late yesterday, the Colorado Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) and Laura Woods (R-Westminster) that would have deleted funding for a state-run program credited with decreasing the teen pregnancies and abortions by over 35 percent.

It was a watershed moment for backers of the program, whose efforts to procure state funding were killed last year by Senate Republicans–as chronicled by national news outlets and lowly blogs alike.

But the watershed moment was nearly eclipsed by the water cooler discussion of why in the world Woods would go out of her way to oppose an astonishingly successful teen pregnancy prevention program, given the spectacular bipartisan allure of lowering teen pregnancies and abortions?

Woods doesn’t return my calls, so someone else will have to ask her, but the stakes are about as high as they can get, as control of state government likely depends on who wins Woods’ swing senate district in November.

Politics aside, Woods has been consistent in standing up for her anti-choice and Tea-Party positions, from the day she started running for the legislature until now–as opposed to other state Republicans who’ve essentially re-invented themselves (Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Mike Coffman) when faced with tough election campaigns in moderate districts.

Woods didn’t speak at last night’s senate hearing, leaving her co-sponsor Sen. Tim Neville to explain their hostility toward reducing abortions and pregnancies among teenagers.

Neville started out by saying he was concerned about the “widespread and temporary use of sterilization products on women and girls in Colorado.” Arguably, you can describe the program that way, if you must. Under Colorado’s Family Planning Initiative, which has been privately funded, low-income women and girls receive free or reduced-cost long acting reversible contraception (LARC), such as intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Neville, who’s the leading GOP contender to defeat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, went on to say (Listen here at 535:35).

Neville: These IUDs and other issues do nothing to prevent the spread of STDs [sexually transmitted diseases]. There is nothing to suggest that the psychological and medical risks and costs associated with the increased sexual activity will be managed or addressed by these funds or this legislation.

The use of IUDs has never been shown to encourage more sex, as you might suspect. So the psychological risk-benefit analysis should focus on the mental-health impact of being a teen parent or having an abortion versus avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

Neville, who was bothered by lack of parental notification in administering the contraception under the program, argued that the LARC program isn’t necessary because “birth control is already provided, free, to anyone who needs it who qualifies” under the Affordable care act.

But it’s specifically the use of implants and long-acting contraception that makes the program successful, and some forms of LARC birth control, along with the training needed to provide them, are not covered currently by Obamacare.

Neville’s closing comment was also incorrect and probably the most frustrating to LARC backers. He alleged:

Neville:  “Colleagues, this is a program that, if it went through a vote through the Senate and went through its natural process, would not have made it.”

In fact, just last week the state house defeated an amendment, almost exactly like the one offered by Neville and Woods, with the support of all Democrats and three Republicans. And it’s nearly a certainty that one Republican or more would have joined Democrats in the state senate to pass a stand-alone LARC bill last year and this year. That’s probably one reason Republicans allowed funding in the budget in the first place–to take it off the table.

Neville did not make the anti-LARC argument, among the most popular last year, that IUDs cause abortions, but Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs raised it last week,  as quoted in the Colorado Springs Gazette.:

Klingenschmitt: “I would be fine with family planning. I would be fine with some kinds of birth control, but when the taxpayers are funding post-conception abortion pills, that crosses the line.”

Klingenschmitt’s and other GOP objections will be irrelevant once the budget bill clears the state senate today and is signed by Hick.

Then all eyes (or at least the eyes of the political world) will turn to Woods, Neville and other Republicans to see how this issue plays out on the campaign trail.

Gardner says he might not back Cruz or Trump, if one of them is the GOP prez nominee

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

As Colorado Republicans appear to be lining up behind Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner is saying he may not support Cuz–or billionaire Donald Trump–if one of them becomes the Republican nominee.

“Look, any of these nominees are going to have to earn my support,” said Gardner on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis show yesterday (here at 1:40), when asked if he’d support Trump, if Trump were the GOP nominee.”But the fact is I don’t think it’s going to be Donald Trump.”

Gardner said it was “nonsense” to think the ultimate GOP nominee will be anyone “other than the nominees that are going to be before the voters at the state convention this weekend.”

“I think it should be somebody who’s put themselves forward over the past year and a half, if not longer, before the people of Colorado. They are the ones who have skin in the game. They are the ones who will ultimately be our nominee.”

Gardner has waffled on whether he’d support Trump, if Trump were the nominee. On the radio yesterday, Gardner again criticized Trump.

As far as I can tell, Gardner has not stated whether he’d back Cruz, if Cruz were the nominee.

Reporters should take note of talk-show host’s line of questioning on abortion

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman has been doing us all a favor by interviewing Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates, but his interview with El Paso Country Commissioner Peggy Littleton Saturday stood out, because he dug in with follow-up questions.

Silverman: If Roe vs. Wade is overturned then states will have the right to criminalize abortion. Do you think abortion is a form of murder?

Littleton: [no answer]

Silverman: Are you pro-life or pro-choice, Peg Littleton?

Littleton: When we look at life, Craig, we have to consider that all life is valuable. And it is a decision of those people who chose to have an impact on their own lives. I personally am pro-life. I would always prefer that people choose life. But I would never judge them for making a decision that I have no impact on. I’ve never been in a position where I had a 14 or 15- year old who was raped or was a victim of incest. I would never put myself in a position to make a judgment call for someone else. And I will just leave it there. So let’s go back to why I would be the next Senator who would be best.

Silverman: No, No! I’m sorry. I just feel like you’re ducking and diving a little bit. I don’t know why you’re all over Trump for saying that he’s pro-life and he thinks a woman should suffer a sanction. Why would you give immunity to a woman under such circumstances? It’s not a 14- or 15-year-old who’s been raped. Let’s talk about a 32-year-old career woman who has an unintended pregnancy and says, ‘You know, this is not the right time or place.’ And she goes to Planned Parenthood and has an abortion. Or uses the morning-after pill. So, do you think she should she be sanctioned for that?

Littleton: I will not sanction the right of people to do what they feel is in their best interests. That is not my judgment call. But I’d like to get back to some the reasons why I would be the best choice for the next U.S. Senator that would be able to take Michael Bennet out of the Senate, if we could, please.

Silverman: Well, I’m afraid that I am going to control the questioning. And if I feel you dodge the questions, it’s going to make me ask them over again.

Silverman has a valid and important line of questioning here–trying to clarify who should be punished (the woman? the doctor?) if abortion becomes a crime. And why.

“Trump’s interchange with Chris Mathews had just happened, and my show thrives on being current,” Silverman told me via email when asked to explain why he was asking Littleton tough follow-up questions, when he’d let other candidates slide on the issue. “Beyond that, I had a fresh take on the subject before Peg came on, from this interesting link provided me by one of my longtime pro-life listeners.”

Reporters should put Silverman’s line of questioning to all candidates, as the election season heats up. It helps people understand what’s at stake if abortion were to be outlawed or restricted. And what potential lawmakers think about it.

Listen to Littleton on KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman Show April 2:

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/us-senate-candidate-peggy-littleton-on-the-craig-silverman-show-april-2-2016

Did 9News err in limiting its U.S. Senate debate to eight GOP candidates?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Last week, Denver Post reporter John Frank wrote that 9News’ “announcement of the first televised debate in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is sure to create controversy: With more than a dozen candidates in the race, who will make the debate stage?”

9News stated it will include any “viable” candidate in its April 5 debate, as determined by a 5-member panel of political analysts.

“The panel may also draw scrutiny,” Frank suggested, “as the members represent establishment politics in a field with a number of outsider candidates.”

Frank swiftly outlined how each member of the panel is connected with establishment politics.

Along these lines, one detail I stumbled on is that fact that one panel member, Kelly Mahar, has close ties to former Rep. Jon Keyser, having joined with him to form “iGOP,” a “slate of young, tech savvy Republicans” who ran for Republican National Convention (RNC) delegate slots in 2012. Mahar is also a 9News commentator.

In any event, I asked Rittiman to respond to the criticism that in deciding between a grassroots and a more establishment GOP candidate, 9News’ establishment-oriented panel might be biased toward the establishment candidate. He said:

Rittiman: “We selected people [for the panel] who know what it takes to mount a successful Senate campaign and see if a candidate has anything to show besides filing an FEC form. We want people on stage who have a shot of gaining access to the primary ballot, which takes some level of organized support by this point in the process.

By now, when we’re this close to the state convention, the candidates should be able to point to something. Grassroots support is great. Show us the grassroots support you have. That’s fair game.

Just because we have some folks who have been closer to politics and know what it takes to run a campaign involved in the selection process doesn’t mean that those people wouldn’t take it very seriously if any of the candidates were to show us some metric or measure of grassroots support. We can all recognize that when we see it.

I’d again stress that we will allow any ballot-qualified candidates who haven’t dropped out to participate in our June 7 primary debate—and that we are allowing all candidates to submit up to two minutes of video to be published on 9NEWS.com and mentioned during the debate.

Yesterday, 9News announced that the panel chose eight candidates to participate in the debate. Wouldn’t voters want all of them to go at each other?

Ideally yes, but there are limits. What would all those Republican presidential candidates have looked like on the same stage, with no B-Team debate to siphon some of them off? Pretty bad. A over-crowded debate doesn’t serve the public interest. Colorado faces a similar situation.

So 9News did the right thing to limit the number of candidates, and a “viability” standard, in the absence of polling, makes sense.

You can argue that television station should have put some non-establisment folks on the selection panel — like former Rep. Tom Tancredo, former GOP Chair and KLZ talk-show host Steve Curtis, or Tea Party leader and lawyer Randy Corporon. Some people like that, with political experience.

But I don’t think it mattered. Judging from the candidates selected (see below) yesterday, 9News struck  a balance between the voters’ need to hear from 1) candidates who have a demonstrable hope of winning and 2) from the underdog candidates who deserve to be heard. It’s a tough call when you have so many odd candidates vying against each other.

9News’ announcement yester of the debate lineup seemed to reflect a fair process:

“The lineup for the debate is not yet final. Campaigns who were not invited have been given a deadline of March 31 to provide any additional evidence of viability for the panel to consider.

The panel unanimously decided that the campaigns of Charlie Ehler, Jerry Eller, Michael Kinlaw, and Donald Rosier did not demonstrate a viable path to accessing the June primary ballot.

Ehler and Rosier did not provide materials for the panel to review by the Monday deadline.

Greg Lopez, who had announced a run, told 9NEWS he’s dropped out and is endorsing Natividad in the race.”

 

 

Gardner denies plotting to stop Trump at secetive meeting

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

In a radio interview this afternoon, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner denied that he traveled to a meeting at a swanky Georgia resort over the weekend in a last ditch effort to stop Donald Trump from becoming the GOP presidential nominee.

“These conspiracy theories about what took place there are way over the top, spurred by a Huffington Post liberal outlet that thinks people are going to be gullible enough to believe it was something that clearly it wasn’t,” said Gardner of the meeting, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.

The “main topic at the closed-to-the-press confab” was how to stop “Republican front-runner Donald Trump,” according to the Huffington Post article, by Ryan Grim, Nick Bauman, and Mark Fuller.

“This is absolutely nuts that the liberal Huffington Post has conservatives questioning what’s happening,” said Gardner on air. “I mean, this is an organization that ends every story with, ‘Editor’s note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist.’ This is from the Huffington Post, so it’s pretty crazy what people are saying right now.”

Gardner, who supports Sen. Marco Rubio, described the event as an annual meeting, and he said he was on panels addressing China and the freshman class in the U.S. Senate.

“To think that anything else was discussed by me is absolutely untrue,” Gardner said on KNUS 710-AM’s Kelley & Kafer Show March 9, referring to the Trump discussion (at 4 min below).

“That’s unfortunately, probably the best way to describe it, as a wonky, nerd forum,” said Gardner. “I know they’ve talked about the tech CEOs. And yes, Tim Cook was there talking about the encryption issue in front of Congress right now, and the very real challenge of balancing privacy with security. And again, this is an annual conference that’s been going on since 1982. To think that there was some other kind of purpose for it is simply not true and a flat-out lie.”

Correction: an early version of this post incorrectly stated that Karl Rove presided over a discussion of how to stop Trump.

Neville joins GOP Medicaid misinformation frenzy

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Republicans have been blaming Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor, for Colorado’s budget woes—even though the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid didn’t cost Colorado anything.

State Sen. Tim Neville, who’s leading a pack of Republicans vying for the chance to unseat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, jumped on the baseless Medicaid-bashing bandwagon in a Jan. 4 interview with the “Americhicks,” Molly Vogt and Kim Munson, on KLZ 560-AM.

Neville: I believe it’s time for the government to re-prioritize, and of course the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the Medicaid expansion, which the governor did several years ago, eating every single dollar that we have in increased expense.

Not only is this false, but it’s really mean, as it pits everything else the government is struggling to pay for (roads, schools, etc.) against funds for the (mostly) working poor, especially those undeserving old and disabled people.

Maybe Neville really meant that he thinks Medicaid is costing the state too much—which, again, would have nothing to do with Obamacare. The program’s costs are increasing, but less than in previous years, due to the growing numbers of elderly and disabled people who are enrolled.

If he’s worried about Medicaid costs, Neville should explain how he wants to “re-prioritize” government, as he put it, and specifically how he’d cut Medicaid or alter it. Neville is known to be unafraid of expressing his Tea Party views, but I can’t find any explanation from him on this one.

I don’t think Neville would follow the lead of GOP Sen. President Bill Cadman, who declined to explain how he’d change Medicaid but, instead, he actually told a reporter to put the question to Democratic Speaker of the state House, Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, even though she’s never suggested cutting Medicaid, as Cadman essentially did last month.

Maybe the Americhicks, who take personal responsibility seriously, will have Neville back on their show—or even land Cadman—and extract some specifics about their Medicaid plans. And, while they’re at it, everyone would love to hear a detail or two on how they’d like to shore up Colorado’s budget.