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Heidi Ganahl, University of Colorado regent and the only Republican left holding a statewide office in Colorado, has said she’s considering a run at Gov. Jared Polis next year. This week she penned a column making the case against his reelection.
It’s pretty on-the-nose for a gubernatorial hopeful, and it’s easy to see her repeating the column’s talking points on the stump. All that’s missing from her tweet teasing it is an actual announcement.
Republicans are banking on the historical trend that says the party out of power does well in the midterms, but beating Polis will be difficult. Don’t just take my word for it — Ganahl called it a “moonshot” when I spoke with her several weeks ago.
Why? Democrats now hold a registration advantage that veteran consultants estimate hands them a starting advantage of 5-10 percentage points — meaning they don’t need spectacular candidates to win. It helps Polis’ case that he’s quite popular, polling well above water throughout the entire pandemic.
Then there’s the matter of his money. Whatever you spend, you can be sure he’ll have more. He’s worth hundreds of millions, and from the start of his political career he has spent extravagantly: At 25 years old, he dropped $1.2 million on a state Board of Education seat — 120 times what his opponent spent.
I caught up this week with the chair of the state GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown, to talk about the 2022 election after she and other party leaders touted their platform at a Denver gas station.
“It’s very unfortunate that Coloradans live in a state where their governor buys his seat. He shouldn’t get to sit in that seat because he has more money,” she said.
She sounded excited about her party’s chances in the four major statewide contests — governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer — all of which feature a Democratic incumbent. (It’s the job of any party chair to project confidence.)
More revealing were the remarks from state Sen. John Cooke in a recent talk radio discussion about whether Polis can be beat (originally reported by liberal blog Colorado Pols).
“You know, I would like to say yes, but no, I don’t think he can at this point,” Cooke said. “(M)oney runs campaigns. And one, we need to have a good candidate, and it’s really getting late in the season.”
About that: Burton Brown said the GOP’s top-of-the-ticket candidates will announce as soon as this summer and as late as the spring.
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Cash for kids: Gov. Jared Polis is incentivizing weekly coronavirus tests for K-12 students.
Just the links
- Why 2020 is being hailed as a “banner year” for legislation supporting people with disabilities.
- Colorado was the first in the country to legalize marijuana, but other states are catching up — and then some.
- In 2019, Polis authorized digital identification for Coloradans. That’s newly relevant because among the documents you can store on the app is your COVID vaccine card. Colorado Public Radio explains.
Federal politics • By Justin Wingerter
The Senate’s small step on pot
Stashed away in the infrastructure bill that the U.S. Senate passed Tuesday is a requirement that three federal departments figure out how to get high-quality cannabis to scientists.
An amendment introduced by Colorado U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper requires the Transportation Department, Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to publish a plan in two years for letting researchers who are studying marijuana-impaired driving get their hands on the cannabis that Americans buy at dispensaries. Currently, researchers can only use government-grown weed.
If the infrastructure bill becomes law (it faces a bumpy road in the House first), it also calls for a plan to be drawn up for creating a national clearinghouse of cannabis. Strains would be collected and distributed, so researchers in states where it’s illegal could get the strong stuff. For science.
“Colorado led the way on marijuana legalization,” Hickenlooper said in a statement last month (that didn’t mention he opposed legalizing). “The federal government needs to catch up by lifting outdated restrictions on the scientific study of cannabis so we can prevent driving while high.”
Read more about what Congress’ giant infrastructure bill means for Colorado.
More federal politics news
- Mesa County has to get rid of 40 pieces of election equipment, per a state order, after an alleged breach of its voting technology.
- Colorado’s Ken Salazar was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
- The feds are sending over a quick $11.6 million for cleanup on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon.
- Former Olympian Eli Bremer will challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in 2022.
- Karen Breslin, a Democratic lawyer and college instructor from Elizabeth, will too.
- Dominion Voting Systems has sued right-wing media for defamation — again.
Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson
Lucky No. 13?
For 50 years, Denver’s had 11 city council seats representing specific districts with well-defined borders and two at-large seats representing the entire city.
The unlikely pair of Candi CdeBaca and Kevin Flynn want to throw out the at-large seats and redraw boundary lines across the entire city so there are 13 council members representing 13 districts.
It’s a contentious move and one that barely passed the council’s Finance and Governance Committee on Tuesday on a 4-3 vote. The proposal will head to the full council later this month for a decision on whether to put it up to a vote on the city’s November ballot.
Flynn, who’s been on council since 2015, said the city structured the council that way back in 1971 — the era of belted turtlenecks and flared jeans, when the country was still mired in the Vietnam War and Three Dog Night, Carole King and the Bee Gees topped the charts.
CdeBaca believes the original motive was to silence minorities in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. And adding two more districts to the council would mean more area-specific — and therefore equitable — representation for Denverites on the council, she said.
Council members who represent a district can take on citywide issues anyway, CdeBaca said, pointing to Kendra Black’s plastic bag fee or Stacie Gilmore’s long-term rental license law.
Plus, Flynn added, at-large council members are elected differently. The two candidates with the most votes in the races win. He said a former at-large councilwoman once recommended that he run for an at-large seat because he’d “only have to finish second to win.”
But the council’s existing at-large members — Robin Kniech and Debbie Ortega — oppose the changes, saying the move would mean less representation for Denverites because everyone who lives in Denver, no matter the district, has two other council people.
Ortega also said during Tuesday’s committee meeting that the shift could hurt fellow council members who might need an ally, particularly under Denver’s strong-mayor form of government.
“When you’re trying to get an issue funded, it’s not as easy to get it done if it’s just each district person trying to fight for those issues on their own,” Ortega said.
Either way the issue won’t affect Kniech or Ortega, both are term-limited and can’t run again.
More Denver metro news
- Boulder County argued Denver Water’s lawsuit over a proposal to expand the Gross Reservoir should be dropped.
- Aurora’s city council turned down a camping ban, but will have to vote again later this month.
- Two of Denver’s seven stretches of shared streets will once again open up to cars.
- New Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero discussed mask mandates, vaccine requirements and learning gaps.
- School mask guidelines garner criticisms from doctors who want them and parents who don’t. Check out the situation in your district here.
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