For people, policy and Colorado politics
What’s The Spot? You’re reading an installment of our weekly politics newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered straight in your inbox.
Jared Polis has gone out of his way as governor to appear as nonpartisan as possible. It’s pretty rare to hear the Democrat badmouth other politicians — even Republicans.
Even President Donald Trump. Since the pandemic began, I’ve heard him compliment or thank the Trump administration more often than I’ve heard him criticize it.
On the rare occasions when he does go after another politician, he’s usually quite measured.
This week, the governor rallied support for Diane Mitsch Bush, the former state lawmaker running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, at Pitkin County Democrats’ annual gathering on Zoom.
He didn’t utter Republican candidate Lauren Boebert’s name, but he had this to say about the race: “Listen, go to your Republican, independent friends and neighbors, and have them take a look at these two candidates in that congressional race. Even for mainstream conservative Republicans, I don’t think they want to be represented by somebody who believes in this QAnon conspiracy and has been cited for violating numerous health orders and putting people in their own restaurant’s health in jeopardy.”
(Boebert says she doesn’t subscribe to QAnon’s beliefs, but her campaign has largely been defined in media — especially national media — by her “Q-curiosity.”)
Polis didn’t exactly throw bombs, but, again, he never really does.
Speaking about the election in general, Polis also told the group, “You know, many elections we say it’s important, it’s the most important, but this one is. 2020 is the most important. There is so much at stake for our state, for our nation, for the world.”
Elsewhere in this week’s newsletter, Justin Wingerter revisits a political ad that some are calling prescient, Conrad Swanson digs into the fight over Denver’s budget and Saja Hindi looks at the lack of excitement over a second effort to recall the governor.
To support the important journalism we do, you can become a Denver Post subscriber here.
Questions or tips?
Have a question about the upcoming election? A tip about political news? Submit it here and it’ll go straight to The Denver Post politics team.
The state’s unemployment claims system has struggled to keep up with the sheer number of people laid off or furloughed since the pandemic hit. Joe Rubino writes about the latest problem — with a tool that’s supposed to pay $300 in federal to Coloradans who qualify for at least $100 in state assistance weekly.
Capitol Diary • By Saja Hindi
Try, try again? Or not.
The latest petition seeking to recall Gov. Jared Polis over his coronavirus response has been met wearily by Colorado’s political crowd, even some Republicans.
And it’s easy to see why. It would take collecting more than 600,000 signatures in 60 days to force a recall election. A 2019 effort by some of the same people to recall Polis didn’t even turn in signatures to be verified — one of several failed recall attempts by conservatives that year.
Polling indicates the group faces an uphill battle in bringing down the governor even if enough signatures could be collected. Survey findings released this week by liberal advocacy group ProgressNow showed that 58% of registered voters approve of Polis’ handling of the pandemic, compared with 36% who disapproved of it. Of those who participated, 43% were unaffiliated, 27% Republicans and 30% Democrats — similar to the state’s political makeup.
Those who want to limit the governor’s powers and change how the state responds to the pandemic would be better off trying to flip the state Senate, that chamber’s GOP spokesperson, Sage Naumann, suggested on Twitter Wednesday. A net gain of two seats there would give Republicans control of the chamber and provide a check on Polis and the solidly Democratic House.
Note to Colorado candidates
The Denver Post has emailed — or attempted to email — questionnaires to all candidates on 2020 Colorado ballots for U.S. Congress, RTD board, CU Board of Regents and state Board of Education as well as Denver metro area candidates for the state legislature and district attorney. If you are running for one of these offices and haven’t seen a questionnaire — including in your spam folder — please email email@example.com to receive a link. The questionnaires must be returned by Sept. 27.
More Colorado political news
#COSen 2020 • By Justin Wingerter
Has Romanoff been vindicated?
Last year, then-U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff released a campaign ad that I’ve heard described as “cartoonishly grim,” “long as hell,” and a lost scene from Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Headlines called it “apocalyptic” and “nightmarish.” Sen. Cory Gardner called it “insane.”
Climate activists are now calling it something else: prescient.
“When Andrew Romanoff released this ad, he was decried as sensationalist and hyperbolic,” the youth-led Sunrise Movement wrote Sept. 9. “Now, millions are trapped indoors by the smoke from climate crisis induced fires as the sky is orange or red across the West Coast.”
“Romanoff and Sunrise Movement are owed apologies from every news outlet, pundit and politician that mocked his climate ad which forecast a future of being forced inside because of heat, ozone and wildfire,” wrote David Sirota, a Coloradan and former speechwriter for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The 4-minute, 16-second digital ad shows a dystopian “not so distant future” in which a Colorado Springs family lives in a bunker and wears hazmat suits to protect themselves from 127-degree temperatures, an air quality index of 420, and tornadoes. None of that has occurred yet in Colorado Springs, but other parts of the country have seen 130-degree temperatures (Death Valley), air quality index readings of 420 (Oregon) and even fire tornadoes (California).
So, does Romanoff feel vindicated?
“‘Vindicated’ is not on my list,” he said via text Wednesday. “What I feel is grateful for the firefighters and other first responders, sad for the victims of these disasters, and angry at the administration and anyone else who continues to deny the evidence all around us.”
More federal election news
Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson
Timing is everything
Expect Denver City Council to propose some substantial changes to Mayor Michael Hancock’s proposed budget for 2021.
The whole process got off on the wrong foot in more ways than one, but the timing in particular has left council members frustrated.
Hancock’s staff released the budget proposal Tuesday, which is precisely when Council members got their first glimpse of the nearly 800-page document. And they had just over 24 hours to read and digest the weighty tome before budget hearings started Wednesday.
“There’s no possible way we can be expected to go through this budget realistically, absorb the information and prepare ourselves to ask the questions in time for budget hearings to start,” Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer said.
Typically council receives a draft budget in early July, Sawyer said. But this year’s version was essentially worthless because the city was still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. They were told none of the numbers would remain constant between then and now, she said.
Sure, this is a fluid situation and Hancock’s office faces complications of its own developing the budget, Sawyer acknowledged, but the administration should either have delayed budget hearings or shared the proposal with the City Council members earlier.
This year’s proposal includes tens of millions of dollars worth of cuts and employee furloughs. If the coronavirus resurges it will only take a turn for the worse. The group must adopt a final version of the budget in November.
“This process was created by design to keep Council from digging into the details,” said Lisa Calderon, chief of staff for Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca. “It is set up to rubber-stamp the mayor’s budget with as little pushback as possible.”
But Hancock is already seeing pushback.
The City Council rejected his proposed police union contract Monday — something that’s never happened before — and a chief objection was over voting on such a substantial portion of Denver’s public safety budget before seeing the entire financial picture.
Even some council members who supported the contract voiced that concern, although they said they voted in favor anyway for fear of new contract negotiations resulting in a worse deal.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear what changes are coming for the city budget. Council members have to read the document first.
More Denver and suburban political news