Ned Ryun and his American Majority nonprofit have a big sales pitch to make before next year’s election. The goal: find conservatives willing to run in Donald Trump’s shadow, at the same time his organization tries to build a new generation of candidates to remake the party’s outlook and image.
Through Nick McIntyre, the state executive director, the American Majority trains Colorado activists to work on turning our purple state reliably red. McIntyre talks to local folks across the state to identify people who could be conservatives capable of getting elected, then training those folks on how to win … from the grassroots up.
Democrats have the same sorts of groups, and both sides get funding for rich people who support liberal or social agendas.
While Trump takes a beating in the headlines, Republicans aren’t paying a price. Greg Gianforte won a special election in Montana two weeks ago, even after allegedly assaulting a reporter who asked about Trump’s health care plan. Republicans are also leading in the polls in upcoming special elections in reliably red South Carolina and Georgia.
For Ryun, Trump problems next year are hypothetical for Republicans. Prognosticating anything about the New Yorker-in-chief is dicey, since the prognosticators have been so wrong so many times, but if Russia, impeachment and a slowing economy are on voters’ minds next year, quality newcomers will be hard to coax onto the ticket, perhaps waiting for better days.
“Donald Trump is going to have to get a couple of big wins on economic policy and strengthen the economy and jobs, and then he can change the narrative,” Ryun said in a phone conversation Friday. “I will say this, if Donald Trump passes tax reform and cuts regulations on business, he’s going to be alright.”
Trump needs to take a firmer, more direct hand in driving his own agenda in Congress, Ryun said. He’s is running the White House like a corporation, and Trump, the CEO, sees House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as senior vice presidents. “They aren’t,” Ryun said.
Ryun said on the phone that the next generation for Republican candidates should not make it a priority to fight the partisan wars of Washington. They should try to bring local political values and priorities to bear on Washington, rather than Beltway battles spilling into local races.
Candidates should be able to solve problems first, Ryun said.
Every election first-time politicians aim way higher than they should. They lack the know-how to raise campaign money, to retain and coordinate volunteers in a ground game or to communicate with the press. In big-time races against polished and well-financed incumbents, most rookies stumble and fall.
“What we’re trying to do is build a farm team,” Ryun said.
Most political aspirants would be better off running in a local race, then perhaps the state legislature before making a big jump into big-time politics, he said. They learn how to win and how to govern, and voters get comfortable with who they’re supporting for higher offices, he said.
A town council race is not the place to be arguing about partisan foreign policy, he said, when people have pot holes they need fixed. While partisan principles are great, they don’t do much good if candidates seem out of touch with the responsibilities of the job they’re running for.
“Don’t lead with some of these contentious issues,” Ryun advised. “You’ll get around to those, but it’s not the first thing on voters’ minds. The thing most voters want is to be left alone by the government. Focus on that … be a little more sophisticated.”
Losing isn’t the end of the world, he said, but candidates who run and run and run aren’t likely to ever be successful once they look more like an opportunist than a public servant, he agreed with Colorado Politics’ assertion.
From Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s meeting with a “murderous strongman” to the hot-button issue of climate change getting plenty of time in the limelight thanks to the United States’ departure from the Paris Accord, the week after Memorial Day proved to be a warm start to the summer season in Colorado politics.
Here are five stories from the week that our staff thinks you should keep in mind.
5. Potential Democratic prosecutors press the case on climate change
With President Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris climate accord this week and incumbent Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman saying she refuses to take sides, the three Democrats hoping to unseat her next year made hay while the sun shined on the issue.
Jason Crow cemented his position as the establishment Democrat in the 6th Congressional District primary this week when former U.S. senator and party elder Mark Udall threw his support behind the first-time candidate in a crowd of newcomers.
2. National security or ‘murderous strongman,’ Gardner takes a meeting
U.S. Cory Gardner of Colorado met Wednesday with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an airbase in Manila. ProgressNow Colorado called out the Republican from Yuma, but Gardner’s staff said the meeting was about a good chat about keeping Americans safe.
1. June bride: Colorado Politics marries The Statesman
The new kid on the blog and one of the oldest political newspapers in the state got hitched this week, as Colorado Politics and The Statesman merged to form the state’s largest political reporting team in print and online.
I need to be straight with you about something. Are you sitting down? I can wait.
I’m losing my hair. It’s the thing I’m the most insecure about, at least right now. Going bald is not the worst thing that ever happened to me, but it’s something I wish hipsters younger than me wouldn’t think about when they meet me. I’ve thought about putting my hand on my head, but then I’d be a bald guy palming the top of his head. That’s not better.
There’s a good reason I’m telling you this. Thursday Colorado Politics, seven months old, announced we’re merging as the senior partner with The Colorado Statesman, a 118-year-old institution of Capitol covefefe. Because Clarity Media owns us both, we’re a first cousin to the Colorado Springs Gazette. The Statesman is our new blood brother.
In the quote I contributed to the announcement, I quipped I wasn’t losing my hair, “at all.” That was an alternative fact. In my daily alternative life, my wispy brown locks still lilt in the breezes of the hot Southern nights of my youth. In reality, the strands on the crown of my head are as thin as the Mobile, Ala., tattoo I had lasered off in Colorado.
That good reason I mentioned before is this: You should expect us to give you the news, no combovers included.
The credibility of Colorado Politics depends on your faith in us, and you should know where we stand, if for no other reason so you can gloat when you think we’ve fallen. Look, some days we’ll do our jobs better than others, and some days we’ll embarrass ourselves worse than I dare imagine, but our guiding light is fairness, followed closely by accuracy and honesty in words and intent.
I should point out our team is made up of seasoned, jaded veterans — the most seasoned, most jaded and most veteran in Colorado. We know when our values are being measured in fairness and when they’re being measured for manipulation. Fairness isn’t measured in making your candidate look good.
The secret of our success so far has been in our tenacity and understanding our audience. We write for the most politically engaged readers across the state, not just down the street. Lobbyists and legislators told us during the last session that we’ve become their first click in the morning, and they check back regularly. They have to, because we sometimes post 15 stories or more a day. With the additional resources of The Statesman, and with new staff and contributors coming aboard, that’s going to increase.
If you want to know what policymakers are reading and you want to get your message to them, Colorado Politics is your best avenue for that. And you can bet our readers vote. They’re too smart not to.
Sure, other reporters smirk and tell us we cover “turns of the screw,” incremental negotiations and updates from committees, to which I respond with a sincere, “Thank you.” The people we write for want to be the first to know when something’s screwed. We’ll continue to do that. We won’t save up notes and wait for other reporters do the sorting and lifting. Some call that sophisticated. I call that lazy. It’s really just editorial philosophy. Less is not more. It’s less. Our readers deserve more. Odds say we’ll fail, but it won’t be for lack of effort
Others are pulling back their coverage practically to their front doors, but we’re expanding to the small towns and distant corners of Colorado.
We’re working on a lot of exciting things, including a weekly statewide political magazine.
In print for subscribers we will tackle big-picture issues. We’ll tackle the future of Colorado water, for example, and tell you things you don’t know from both sides equally. We’ll do in-depth, sometimes aggressive, sometimes witty profiles. I’m going to visit Rep. Jim Wilson in Salida in a couple of weeks. He’s a rare breed of advocate for public education, a country wisdom phrase-turner and a skilled hunter with a rifle or a bow. In college, they called him Slick. In the schools where he taught, coached and led, they called him sir, the administrator with a heart as big as Kansas. In the Capitol they call him a Republican.
We’ll profile lots of legislators, lobbyists and behind-the-scenes characters, as well as break the big stories and inform you daily about loose screws. Politics in Colorado is a small town and we’re that small town’s newspaper.
By the end of this year, we hope to have formed partnerships with small-town papers that have no Capitol or political coverage. They can rely on ours. Their readers will better understand their government and politicians, if they listen to us.
But they need to trust us. That’s where we stand or fall.
Now self-driving cars are really a thing in Colorado. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 213 to put the autonomous vehicles into state law Thursday.
Hickenlooper said it was the first time he ever signed a bill on the back of a car, political PR pro Cinamon Watson, who was there for the ceremony, passed along to me after.
The bill was sponsored by Sens. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, with Reps. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, and Faith Winter, D-Westminster.
A study released last month suggested automated vehicles could drive 95 percent of the miles traveled each year in the U.S. as soon as 2030. Hill cited a portion of the RethinkX report that projected driverless cars could save the average family up to $5,600 a year.
“Driverless cars are just the beginning,” Hill said in a statement. “Here in Colorado, we’ve always been bold enough to pioneer new policies, technologies, and ideas. Hard work, dedication, and the will to conquer new frontiers inspires every Coloradan. With this legislation we send a clear message that Colorado plans to remain on the forefront of job creation and cutting edge ideas.”
While labor unions say the technology is unproven and threatens jobs, Bridges said the new law recognizes the vehicles’ fast approach into mainstream culture and recognizes their safer operation and economic value.
“It promotes core Colorado values of opportunity, independence and responsibility by bringing jobs and innovation to our state while protecting public safety,” Bridges said.
Added Winter: “Last year 605 people died on Colorado highways—there were over two million crashes and 90 percent of those were from human error. And autonomous vehicles can’t drive drunk, they can’t drive distracted, and they can’t drive when they’re tired. This is a law that sets the framework to increase safety on our roads and encourage innovation in a growing field.”
The new law says such automated vehicles are a matter of state, not local, law, and that if a vehicle complies with every other state and federal law, then they’re good to roll in Colorado. Senate Bill 213 also requires anyone testing such a vehicle get the go-ahead from the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Advocates say the self-driving vehicles are about way more than convenience. They’re safer than trusting humans and could someday offer an array of mobility options for the disabled and older Coloradans.
Colorado leaders left and right had strong feelings about President Trump’s symbolic withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord Thursday.
Here is a digest of what people said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper:
“It is a serious mistake to back out of the Paris Accord. This is a historic global agreement between almost every nation on earth to address the single most pressing issue facing humanity. Abandoning this climate deal is like ripping off your parachute when you should be pulling the ripcord. America’s greatness has always been demonstrated by our moral leadership. Today, we break ranks with 190 nations who are working together to stop the worst effects of climate change, which the scientific community agrees would devastate the global economy and our planet, and the defense community agrees would destabilize vulnerable nations that have served as breeding grounds for international terrorism.
“The U.S. is letting go the reins of world leadership, allowing other countries like Russia, India, and China to take our seat at the international table. Our economic and technological competitiveness will suffer. Isolationism is not leadership. Colorado’s commitment to clean air and clean energy will continue. Clean energy is abundant, home-grown, and creates 21st century jobs for our modern workforce across every part of our state. We renew our commitment to pursue cleaner energy at a lower cost. To do otherwise would be governmental malpractice.”
Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet:
“The President made a catastrophic mistake by putting a misguided campaign promise before the needs of our economy and the credibility of American diplomacy,” Bennet said. “Before this decision, the United States was on track to achieve energy independence, reduce its carbon footprint, and create good-paying jobs in rural communities—with Colorado leading the way. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement attempts to undercut the progress we have made.
“In Colorado, we will continue working to meet the carbon emissions targets set in the Clean Power Plan. The administration should reverse this shortsighted decision and work to protect our planet, economy, and national security.”
State Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction:
“The U.S. is the leader in clean reliable energy, being part of the Paris agreement was symbolic at best. We have a 100 year history using fossil fuels and beyond to better everything from clean water, clean air advanced medical equipment to shoes on our feet, we’ll be just fine without the Paris Agreement.”
“Coloradans value our natural heritage and our lands. Our leaders know it’s not a partisan issue – it’s our collective livelihood. That’s the Colorado way. The Paris Accords are about protecting people. Declining economies and scarce resources are certain outcomes. Marginalized communities in urban and rural Colorado will be hit the hardest.
“And since the White House won’t lead, Colorado will. Tomorrow, I will join my colleagues to create a bipartisan plan to help protect Coloradans from the untold consequences of the president’s failed leadership on this issue.”
Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates:
“President Trump’s decision to back the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord is short-sighted and unwise. Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, and its effects, like drought and increased wildfires are already being seen here in the American West. As the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution, the U.S. should lead on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“If the President of the United States fails to lead, the American people and leaders in our western States will. Western Resource Advocates will continue to work with elected leaders with our communities, with leaders in the clean energy industry and with investors on smart and economical solutions to reduce carbon pollution.”
Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado:
“This is a disappointing and infuriating day, and the president has shown once again that he is reckless. The power and leadership on clean energy and climate change now shifts to states, cities and the private sector. Whatever Governor Hickenlooper, mayors, county commissioners, and other leaders across our state had been planning to do on climate change – they must now do twice as much. The time for bold action is now.”
Jimmy Sengenberger, president and CEO of the Millennial Policy Center:
“President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change is the right move, for all of the reasons so aptly expressed by the president in his Rose Garden statement this afternoon. The fact remains that former President Obama’s decision to sign on to the accord was unconstitutional in the first place, as a binding treaty requires Senate confirmation. In effect, what President Trump just did was reinstate a fundamental constitutional tenet. As one Millennial Policy Center fellow put it, ‘If you like your unconstitutionally signed, financed, and implemented U.N. treaty, you can keep your unconstitutionally signed, financed and implemented U.N. treaty.’
“… While we agree that humans do impact our climate in some ways, our response must not be disproportionate and come at the expense of the economy and American livelihoods. We applaud President Trump’s decision today and hope that he will take a more thoughtful, measured approach to leading on this important issue moving forward.”
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement is wrong and takes our country and Colorado backwards not forward. I’m disappointed and frustrated by this decision. Clearly climate change is a threat to our way of life in Colorado.
“Colorado is a proven leader in developing technologies that reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. I will continue to fight for the progress we’ve made in Colorado and push to reduce the impact of climate change in our communities.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy:
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement takes our nation backwards. Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity. With or without Washington’s help, Colorado will continue to lead. Scientists and engineers here in Colorado are world leaders in developing, producing and marketing advanced solar and wind technologies. We can keep electricity affordable, reduce carbon pollution and bring new jobs to Colorado, especially in rural Colorado. In 2015, cleantech businesses employed 4,250 workers in eastern Colorado alone. This lays the foundation for economic prosperity for our state for decades to come.
“Colorado should have the cleanest air in the country, and be a model for the nation in using clean, renewable sources of energy. To accomplish this goal, I propose Colorado raise its renewable energy standard from 30% to at least 50%. In 2004 Colorado passed the first in the nation, voter-approved renewable energy standard. We will likely reach this target ahead of time and it’s time we raised it.”
“This president and his administration are on the wrong side of history with this remarkably short-sighted decision. Global climate change is an issue that requires moral and political leadership from the U.S. and energy-rich states like Colorado.
“If our federal government isn’t going to make smart decisions for our environment and economy, it’s time that U.S. cities and states take the lead. Here in Colorado, Pueblo, Boulder and Aspen have committed to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030; it’s time for leaders across Colorado to act by embracing the future and boldly committing to a sustainable future.”
Tickets to the event started at $125 each and go up to $350 for a VIP reception.
The Guardian newspaper reported Thursday that the FBI is looking into the possibility that Farage was a go-between for the Trump campaign and Wikileaks. The promotion for the Colorado speech characterizes Farage as an adviser to Trump.
Sources told The Guardian Farage is “right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again.”
In a statement to international outlets, Farage said, “This hysterical attempt to associate me with the Putin regime is a result of the liberal elite being unable to accept Brexit and the election of President Trump.
“For the record, I have never been to Russia, I’ve had no business dealings with Russia in my previous life and I have appeared approximately three times on RT (Russia Today newspaper) in the last 18 months. I consider it extremely doubtful I could be a person of interest to the FBI as I have no connections to Russia.”
With Hillary Clinton leading in most polls last year, Wikileaks released a cache of unflattering e-mails that most U.S. intelligence agencies think was hacked by Russian operatives to sway the election.
Trump continues to call it “fake news,” but the controversy and growing specter of impeachment threaten to engulf his presidency just months into office.
Former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is endorsing Jason Crow’s bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in eastern metro Denver’s 6th Congressional District. “To effectively serve, you need courage of conviction, passion for making your community a better place, and the support of your friends and neighbors,” the Democratic Party elder says in a […]
If they couldn’t fight over water, would longtime rivals Pueblo and Colorado Springs find something else to fight over? Of course! But for now, the ongoing feud over Fountain Creek will do.
The contaminated stormwater that perennially pours into the waterway from the Springs metro area and flows downstream to Pueblo and beyond prompted a lawsuit against Colorado Springs in 2016 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The agencies cited violations of water-quality standards. Pueblo joined the suit even as the two cities started talks and reached an agreement. Colorado Springs agreed to spend $460 million over 20 years on stormwater projects to rein in its runoff. Toward that end, Springs voters agreed in April to give up $12 million in excess tax revenue over two years to spend on stormwater projects.
So, should the state and feds now drop their lawsuit? 5th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs thinks so, as reported last week, and he has asked the Trump administration’s new EPA chief Scott Pruitt to reconsider the litigation. Lamborn’s hope is that the winds of change blowing through the federal agency could shift its tilt on a suit that had been filed under the Obama administration.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers not surprisingly is hoping the same thing and told The Colorado Springs Gazette last Saturday he welcomed Lamborn’s efforts.
Whatever comes of Lamborn’s overture, at least one Pueblo County commissioner isn’t taking it sitting down. And even Lamborn’s fellow Colorado Republican House member, Scott Tipton, whose neighboring 3rd Congressional District includes Pueblo, is expressing misgivings.
Pueblo County Commission Chairman Terry Hart said Lamborn has played no role in the years of negotiations between Colorado Springs and county officials over stormwater controls, adding: “He should stay the heck out of it.”
While Lamborn seems to think the agreement between the two cities moots the suit, Hart believes the lawsuit made it possible — and will cement the gain in place:
“The threat of that lawsuit was critically important in our reaching an intergovernmental agreement with Colorado Springs,” Hart said Tuesday. “We joined that lawsuit to protect our interests and right now, Colorado Springs is doing a good job of honoring its commitment. But the lawsuit would nail down the agreement to withstand the political winds that blow back and forth.”
Tipton appeared more circumspect about the foray by his GOP House colleague, but a statement from his office quoted by Roper leaves no doubt the congressman from Cortez isn’t on Lamborn’s side:
“While Congressman Tipton has been encouraged by the commitment demonstrated by Mayor (John) Suthers to solve this long-standing problem, the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason,” a spokesman said.
It’s anyone’s guess where it all will lead with a West Slope water watchdog like Tipton in on the standoff — and taking Pueblo’s side. Yet another illustration of how Colorado’s water wars can cut cross party lines.
The Colorado Department of Human Services is celebrating some good news for the people it assists with the governor’s fresh signature on three laws Wednesday. House Bill 1284 requires background checks for those working directly with at-risk adults. House Bill 2017 to steer children younger than 13 to programs instead of incarceration for low-level offense. […]
A panel of health and policy experts say Republicans aim to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will mean cost and pain for Coloradans. Left-leaning interests put together a conference call for reporters with their side’s researchers to talk about the impact of the American Health Care Act, which passed quickly from the U.S. House last month and […]