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Colorado Eyes & Ears »

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Phil Weiser raised a lot of money to defeat Rep. Joe Salazar by a little bit in the state primary. He’s going to need to raise even more to defeat Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler in the general election.

In the August report, Brauchler raised $29,195.00 and spent $17,191.87. Weiser raised $260,902.15 and spent $34,149.98. The Democratic party is making an early investment in Weiser with $39,000. The Colorado Conservation Action Fund and two labor unions pitched in another $13,000. Weiser received 139 donations at $1000 or more, many of which can be more than doubled into the November general election. Almost 1000 people have contributed to his campaign since the primary.

Brauchler's situation

Brauchler didn’t face a primary so he built his campaign chest to the point where he and Weiser have about the same amount in dollars available to spend. But Brauchler has not shown himself to be a fundraising star like Weiser, as he received only six donations at $1000 or more since the primary. The Republican party may be sitting on some money that will eventually go Brauchler’s way, but the party didn’t make an early play.

Brauchler is using Cutter Consulting LLC for his digital marketing. The Cutters have a sturdy, local reputation, as Jack Cutter “was instrumental in flipping the Colorado State Senate to the Republican majority in 2014.” Sara Cutter does the “nose-to-tail sausage grind” on campaigns, canvassing, and petitions. GS Strategy Group from Idaho provides research. According to GSSG, the nation’s voters are “fiscally conservative and socially tolerant.” GSSG’s data will undoubtedly inform Cutter Consulting’s digital work for ad placement and messaging.

Weiser's situation

Weiser used DSPolitical to spearhead his primary campaign. Its expertise is digital targeting to reach voters, influencers, and constituents. It’s located in DC and Oakland, CA. DSPolitical has done a run- through in the primary. Now Weiser has to replay the script for the general election.

 

Since the primary, he’s added a local digital company, Fruition, from Denver. Weiser paid DSPolitical $43,000, as reflected in his July 2 report, and he’s paid Fruition almost $6500 based on the August report. He had almost $7000 in his July 15 payroll.

The Advantages

Brauchler’s advantage is name recognition through his role as district attorney, especially trying the James Holmes case. Weiser’s advantage is that he knows exactly who voted in the Democratic primary and can expand his targets from there. It looks like Weiser can raise as much money as necessary to position him for a win. Democrats had a significantly higher turnout than Republicans in the primary.

Brauchler will have to deal with GSSG’s finding that most voters are “socially tolerant.” He did support the “red flag” legislation on gun control that lost in the Republican controlled Senate, but that position can play for and against him at the same time.

Weiser defeated the more liberal candidate in the Democratic primary so he may have come out of that race with a more moderate reputation, but that may play for and against him at the same time.

This race will undoubtedly be highly contested with two capable professionals heading into a brutal campaign season.  PEN

In the grand total of many things political, Democrats did well in Colorado in 2016, going against the fly-over state trend.  Even so, at the state level, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The state House in 2017 will be somewhat more breguet replica watches Democratic, but the state Senate breaks once again at 18-17, advantage Republicans.

Statewide, unaffiliated voters broke toward Democrats at about 4.5 percent.  With party registrations in November at almost even between Democrats and Republicans, both parties needed unaffiliated voters to give them more votes, and Democrats won that battle decisively.

Congressional race results show that nothing is going to change in those seats, unless incumbents retire, until redistricting in 2021.

Diane Mitsch-Busch, HD26

Democrats in the state House of Representatives pounded Republicans.  In most contested seats, Democrats won well above their percentage of registered voters.  Rep. Diane Mitsch-Bush,  punched 18.5 percent of votes by registration above her diminutive size.  Tammy Story, who lost the HD25 race, made that contest much closer than expected, showing how Democrats are gradually taking control of Jefferson County.  

The state Senate story continues to show how Adams County is changing, and the results follow the same candidate, former state Rep. Jenise May.  In 2014, May lost HD30 to JoAnn Windholz, a right-right Republican.  This year, May lost her race for SD25 to Republican state Rep. Kevin Priola, with Priola gaining 11 percent more votes than registration breakdown predicts.

The Windholz race for HD30 went to the Democrats as Dafna Michaelson won, but Michaelson didn’t win by the Democratic share of registered voters.  Parts of Adams County may parallel the economic environment of the Midwest with some blue collar Democrats switching their votes without switching their registration. 

Pueblo County is another fly-over state trend follower.  Clinton lost Pueblo by .5 percent, significantly underperforming US Senator Michael Bennet, who won by 9.5 percent.  Rep. Clarice Navarro on the east side of Pueblo county hit very high approval numbers.  Her district has grown in Republican registration since she was elected and she won by 15.5 percent.

Some districts just can’t make up their minds whom they want for legislator.  In  2014, former state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger lost SD19 to state Sen. Laura Woods.  This year she recaptured the seat.  SD19 has had three state Senators since 2013 when Evie Hudak resigned under pressure from the 2nd amendment voters in the district.

HD59 in Durango is an ancient Greek dramedy with the seat bouncing back and forth between Rep. J. Paul Brown-R and the McLachlan family-D.  Paul had the seat in 2010.  He lost it to former Rep. Mike McLachlan in 2012 by a quarter inch.  McLachlan lost to Paul in 2014 by a quarter inch.  Now Paul lost the seat again, this time to Barbara McLachlan, Mike McLachlan’s wife.  She won by a 1.46 percent victory landslide.

SD19 in turmoil since 2012

North Jeffco is a microcosm for the nation.  Laura Woods and Rachel Zenzinger hold opposite views on many issues, including gun control, public education policy, and health care.  Their campaign wasn’t pretty.  That district has gone through maximum election turmoil, including the recall of school board candidate Julie Williams in 2015.  Somehow, though, the neighborhoods remain neighborhoods.  PEN 

The 2017 legislative preseason officially kicked off Tuesday with release of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed state budget for 2017-18.

The proposal includes some fancy financial footwork, including transfers from cash funds, a reduction of Hospital Provider Fee income to avoid TABOR refunds to taxpayers, an increase in the K-12 negative factor and reductions in General Fund transfers to longines replica transportation.

The governor’s plan also contains tweaks to rebalance the current 2016-17 budget, but those don’t include cuts in current school funding.

The key driver behind the plan is “a marked slowdown in overall General Fund tax revenue growth,” according to the governor’s letter to the Joint Budget Committee. “And recent forecasts reflect dampened expectations about the future.”

The letter continued, “The basic economic assumption underlying our request is for continued but modest economic expansion. Though this is the likeliest scenario, there are both upside and downside risks to this view. We are closely monitoring monthly revenue collections and if the December revenue projection weakens, additional balancing measures will be needed. Because downside risk remains a possibility, we are prioritizing restoring the General Fund reserve to 6.5 percent of appropriations. As we are seeing now, even slight deviations from expectations can result in using reserves. Thus, it is imperative to remain prepared ahead of an actual recession.”

Some of the governor’s ideas won’t be popular with the legislature. And some of his plans will require changes in state law – a dozen of them. If history is any indicator, the legislative budget that finally jells next spring will be significantly different, regardless of whether Democrats win the Senate or split partisan control continues at the Capitol.

But legislators face the same limitations as the governor does – the balanced-budget requirement, only modest revenue growth and earmarked spending requirements for certain programs.

About 90 percent of the budget is spent on just five program areas (in order of size) – K-12 education, Medicaid and related programs, public safety and courts, higher education and human services.

Here are key points from the governor’s plan.

2016-17 adjustments

Transfer of $31.7 million from severance tax funds to the general fund and reduction of the planned $158 million general fund transfer to the HUTF to $79 million. 

2017-18 overview

The budget proposed total funds spending of $28.5 billion, up 3.3 percent. General fund spending would be $10.9 bill, 3.7 percent.

The administration calculated there was a minimum $500 million gap between general fund revenues and required spending. The governor proposes a variety of mechanisms to close that gap. (Read on)

The budget would:

  • Transfer $79 million to the HUTF instead of $109 million
  • Reduce Hospital Provide Fee collections by $195 million to eliminate TABOR refunds of of the same amount
  • Transfer $46.9 million from something called the State Employee Reserve Fund (interesting acronym - SERF) to the general fund
  • Take $15 million from the BEST school construction fund and put it in the Public School Fund to reduce the need for general fund spending on K-12 GF by the same amount

 K-12

Total program funding of $6.6 billion, up $200 million. Average per-pupil funding of $7,606, up 2.4 percent

“After reducing the negative factor by $180.8 million over the past four fiscal years, we are disappointed that fiscal circumstances require us to increase the negative factor, even modestly, in FY 2017-18. Our request increases the negative factor from $830.7 million in FY 2016-17 to $876.1 million for FY 2017-18.” (A year ago Hickenlooper proposed increasing the negative factor in the 2016-17 budget, but the JBC figures out a way to avoid that. It may not be so easy this time.)

Health Care Policy and Financing

$9 billion total funds, $2.8 billion general fund, both increases

The budget assumes a 7.1 percent rise in caseload

Public Safety/Courts

$847 million total funds, up 2.1 percent, and $759 general fund, up 1.6 percent

The budget assumes stable prison caseloads.

Higher education

$4.2 billion total funds and $898 million general fund, the latter up 3.1 percent

“With this modest General Fund increase, it is anticipated that tuition increases will average around 6.0 percent statewide, with variation amongst the institutions ranging from 5.0 percent to 7.7 percent.”

Human Services

$1.9 billion total funds, up 2.7 percent, and $831 million general fund, up 4.1 percent

Significant increases are requested for staffing in the Division of Youth Corrections (80 new FTE staff for security and 16 new FTE for 24-hour medical care), and for 58 more child welfare caseworkers. 

Dig into the details

 

- Todd Engdahl

Legislators on the Democratic side said to their leaders, “YES! You bet!” Republicans, on the other hand, said, “Maybe, maybe not!”

Cadman herded cats while Hullinghorst had the strong arm of the Governor in her pocket

Cadman’s ‘cat herding cats’ environment contrasted sharply with House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst’s corgi nipping Democratic heels. Hullinghorst had the Governor in her back pocket to press interests. The voting range for House Dems looks like this: 363 Yes’s to 3 No’s (Majority leader Crisanta Duran) to 346 Yes’s to 11 No’s (Rep. Dan Pabon).

The spread between Cadman and Marble is 85 NO votes; the spread between Hullinghorst and Pabon is 7 No votes. The Republicans have become the disorganized party.

Three Republican Senators joined Marble in a cohort of frequent No voters: Tim Neville -81 No’s; Jerry Sonnenberg – 74 No’s; and MAJORITY WHIP Randy Baumgardner – 73 No’s.best panerai replica watches

Even so, Cadman helped pass 359 of the 366 bills that got through both chambers.

Senate Democrats helped Cadman when some GOPers went their own way

On numerous occasions, the Senate President needed Democrats to push bills across the finish line. HB15-1186, increasing the age limit for autistic children to receive services, only had 9 Republican votes. HB15-1215, the in-state tuition dependents of military members, only had 11 Republican votes. HB15-1029, the health care telemedicine bill, only had 10 Republican votes.

Some House bills passed without Cadman’s help, showing independence on the part of the “middle” cohort of the GOP. HB15-1072 expands ‘harassment’ to interactive electronic communications. This bill passed with help from Sens. David Balmer, John Cooke, Larry Crowder, Chris Holbert , Beth Martinez-Humenik, Ellen Roberts and all Senate Democrats.

A somewhat different group of Republican Senators helped pass HB15-1226, a bill to allow annual license fees for food establishments to be set by rule rather than statute. Sens. Kevin Grantham, Owen Hill, Chris Holbert, Beth Martinez-Humenik, and Ellen Roberts joined with Democrats to push that bill through.

Republicans settled into four groups

Cadman could rely on three Senators to vote YES consistently on bills that he got behind: Sen. Ellen Roberts (358 Yes – 8 No), Beth Martinez-Humenik (346 Yes – 9 No), and Mark Scheffel (357 Yes – 9 No).

Another group of four Senate Republicans showed good support, about as much as the Democrats: Sen. Kevin Grantham (349 Yes- 17 No), John Cooke (342 Yes – 19 No), Larry Crowder (346 Yes – 20 No), and David Balmer (312 Yes – 26 No).

Republican swing voters included Sen. Owen Hill (34 No’s), Ray Scott (42 No’s), Chris Holbert (53 No’s), Kent Lambert (53 No’s), Laura Woods (54 No’s), and Kevin Lundberg (57 No’s). Audemars Piguet Replica And then there were the big No'ers.

A party can’t be in the majority and be more scrambled than the Senate GOP.

10 Republicans voted NO more often than any Senate Democrat

Overall, Cadman received more consistent support from Senate Democrats than from half of his caucus. The most NO votes on passed bills on the Democratic side came from Sen. Matt Jones-Boulder (339 Yes – 27 No’s). Ten Republican Senators, or more than half of the majority, voted No more often than Jones.

Democratic Sen. Michael Johnston-Denver voted most frequently with Cadman on the donkey side, at 342 Yes – 10 No, giving the Senate President more help than 14 GOPers.

Only five Democratic Senators voted No 20 or more times, Minority Leader Morgan Carroll – 20 No’s, Mary Hodge – 21 No’s, Pat Steadman – 21 No’s, Jessie Ulibarri -25 No’s, and Jones – 27 No’s.

House leaders did need Republican votes, occasionally

Three bills that passed the House needed House Republican votes to get them through. HB15-1057 on the initiative process got 30 of its 41 votes from Republican Representatives. The red light camera repeal bill, HB15-1098, got 30 of its 38 YES votes from Republicans to pass it, with 26 Democrats on the NO side.   SB15-276, the voter approval for use of red light cameras, wouldn’t have passed without Republican support.

The two red light bills have yet to get the green light from the Governor, so the majority of Democrats voting against those two bills may still win the day.

Otherwise, the Democrats set the House agenda. Bills didn’t pass if leadership didn’t want them to. Democratic discipline left House Republicans swinging strikes and some progressive voters scratching their heads, especially on education issues.

The center held as controversial bills died, except for those pesky red light ones

Both parties managed to kill the bills most offensive to partisans. Cadman had a harder time than Hullinghorst and Duran in rounding up votes to get his agenda done. Especially harsh for Cadman must have been the PI on SB15-268, the offenses against unborn children bill. He squeezed the bill through the Senate 18-17, with all Republicans, including pro-choice Sen. Ellen Roberts, supporting. He lost in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee, 6-5, when no Democrat would break his way.

Leadership for Senate Minority leader Carroll was straightforward. On many occasions, she just had to get out of the way and watch Republicans sink their own party’s legislation.

On the whole, bills that passed worked from the center, but the center has moved to the right, given that 14 Senators in the Democratic minority party voted more often with the Republican Senate President than 12 Senators in the Republican majority party.

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