VOLUNTEERS NEEDED To combat the SMEAR CAMPAIGN against candidate Lynn Padgett.

This mailout from the so-called “Integrity Project” arrived in mailboxes yesterday. The Republican propaganda machine produced the list of lies below.

This cabal, which supposedly cares about “transparency,” largely has anonymous donors, as reported in their filing with the Secretary of State.

Luckily, our own mailout (below) arrived in most Ouray County mailboxes yesterday as well.But we are asking for your help in delivering our message door to door in the towns of Ridgway and Ouray.

Can you volunteer an hour or two to walk door-to-door and leave one of our flyers at each house? NO knocking on doors or personal interaction is required.
Reply to this email, and we will give you flyers like the one belowand which neighborhood to walk.

What you missed in the final Colorado U.S. Senate debate between Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper ~ The Colorado Sun

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner participates in the final debate in the 2020 race for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.

The Republican incumbent declared Roe v. Wade “settled law” as his Democratic rival expressed concern about packing the Supreme Court 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he believes the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade protecting a woman’s right to an abortion and a ruling affirming a same-sex couple’s right to marriage are settled law.

“Both cases are settled law … and that precedent should be respected,” Gardner said.

The Republican incumbent’s comments in the final U.S. Senate debate Tuesday came even as he labeled himself “pro-life” and expressed support for a 2020 ballot measure in Colorado that limits abortions by prohibiting the procedure after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

His Democratic rival, John Hickenlooper, once again refused to directly answer a question about whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court to lessen the influence of Republican appointees. The former governor previously said he was “open” to the move but allowed that he’s not a fan of the concept. “I don’t like the idea of court packing,” he said.

“I think if you get new people in Washington, you won’t have to do that kind of institutional change,” he added.

The debate’s focus on the Supreme Court came the same day that President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, faced questions about her views on abortion and court precedents at a confirmation hearing in Washington. https://www.youtube.com/embed/a4YOU4bikXE?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Gardner supports the Republican-led U.S. Senate’s efforts to fill the court vacancy days before the election, despite the fact that he took the opposite stance when President Barack Obama nominated a pick in 2016. Hickenlooper said the chamber’s leaders should instead focus on passing additional coronavirus relief and economic stimulus legislation, rather than working to “rush through this Supreme Court nomination.”

The two candidates delineated clear differences on a range of issues in the hour-long televised debate hosted by 9News, Colorado Politics and The Coloradoan at the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. 

The contest is key to determining which party will control the U.S. Senate, and earlier in the day, a newly released Morning Consult poll showed that Hickenlooper held a 10 percentage point advantage against Gardner, 50% to 40%, according to the survey conducted Oct. 2-11.

A month ago, just before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, a poll from Morning Consult found the race at a statistical tie with Hickenlooper at 46% and Gardner at 44%. But the newer numbers show Ginsburg’s death only galvanized support for the Democrat. 

Jessica Taylor, a national analyst at the Cook Political Report, said Ginsburg’s death and the Supreme Court vacancy “sends people to their partisan corners.” She said the abortion issue is one that positions Gardner “really far and away from where Colorado voters are.”

“Clearly Colorado is a state that is moving away from Republicans — we saw that in 2018 and 2016 as well, and on social issues it’s far more progressive,” said Taylor, who spoke at an election forum hosted by the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research ahead of the debate.

Here’s a look at the other battle lines in from the final debate before the Nov. 3 election: 

The debate began with Gardner and Hickenlooper tussling over coronavirus and the federal response to the pandemic. 

Hickenlooper accused Gardner of not making the passage of a new stimulus package a priority, instead focusing on pushing through Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “Cory can just say I will not vote to support this thing — this Supreme Court nominee — if indeed the relief act doesn’t get passed first,” he said. 

Then Gardner criticized Hickenlooper for not supporting a scaled-back aid bill put forward by Senate Republican leaders last month. “We can’t afford to have someone who refuses to support the people of Colorado in the Senate,” Gardner said. 

Hickenlooper has said the legislation didn’t go far enough and wasn’t a real effort at helping Americans weather COVID-19. But then he said he supported a scaled-back bill not loaded down with partisan amendments, saying Republicans and Democrats are at fault for the gridlock.

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2020 Colorado Ballot Measures 

Amendment B Repeals Gallagher Amendment


A Yes vote for Amendment B would repeal the Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution. The Gallagher Amendment currently requires residential property taxes to equal 45% of the total share of property taxes and nonresidential property taxes to equal 55%, but non-residential property has to stay at 29% of the total collected property tax, so residential property taxes fluctuate. Got it? I know! Super confusing!! 

In Colorado, the value of home prices has been going up faster than the value of nonresidential property. That has led the tax assessment rate for homes to drop over time, meaning homeowners often see lower property tax bills after each two-year reassessment cycle.

When the Gallagher Amendment was adopted in 1982, 21% of the value of a home was taxed. The current tax assessment rate for residential property is 7.15%.This has meant mostly a decrease in residential property tax over the years since Gallagher went into effect. That might sound good, but because of that, the state government, counties, municipalities, and many small districts such as local fire departments and libraries are not able to maintain current levels of important services due to ever decreasing revenue levels. Gallagher is bad for Colorado. Finally we have a chance to repeal it. 

Amendment C Changes charitable gaming license requirements


Nonprofits must be in existence for five years before they can get a bingo-raffle license. Amendment C could cut that to three years.

It’s puzzling why this is in our constitution, but it is. Amendment C is the only ballot measure this year that requires more than a simple majority to pass. It requires a 55% Yes vote to pass.

Amendment 76 Only a citizen of the us can vote


Would remove the right of a citizen to participate in voting in a primary if they will turn 18 before the next general election. Let’s continue the practice of allowing young people to get involved in shaping the world that they will inherit! It won’t affect very many people: only those who turn 18 between the primary and the general election on presidential election years. 

Amendment 77 Allows specific cities to vote to expand gaming and bet limits 


Let the folks in those towns vote to decide if they want betting limits. 

No mention is made about the effect of this amendment on Southwest Colorado’s tribal casinos, but past legal interpretations have found any loosening of state law on gaming for the Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek casinos also applies to the tribal casinos.

Proposition EE Increases taxes on tobacco and vaping for education and health


A Yes vote for Proposition EE would raise taxes by up to $294 million annually by imposing a tax on nicotine liquids, e-cigarettes and other vaping products that is equal to the state tax on traditional tobacco products. The tax would be phased in incrementally.

If Colorado imposes taxes for cigarettes, it is fair that similar products also be taxed. The new taxes would fund preschool programs, rural schools, K-12 education, affordable housing, rental assistance, eviction legal assistance, health care programs, general state spending on tobacco education programs.

Proposition 113 Joins National popular Vote Interstate Compact


Gives Colorado the ability to give all its nine electoral votes to the candidate winning the most votes in the US. If Colorado becomes a member of the NPVIC and if the compact goes into effect, Colorado will give all nine of its Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate winning the most votes nationwide (the winner of the national popular vote.) Currently, Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes must go to the presidential candidate receiving the most votes in Colorado.

The compact would go into effect only if states representing 270 Electoral College votes adopt it. Currently, 14 states and Washington, D.C. – 187 Electoral College votes total – have passed legislation to join the compact. We’re getting close! Let’s add Colorado to the tally. 

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DYING IN A LEADERSHIP VACUUM ~ The New England Journal of Medicine

First time in 200 years of publication they have recommended voting for a candidate

  • The Editors

Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.

The magnitude of this failure is astonishing. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering,1 the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease, far exceeding the numbers in much larger countries, such as China. The death rate in this country is more than double that of Canada, exceeds that of Japan, a country with a vulnerable and elderly population, by a factor of almost 50, and even dwarfs the rates in lower-middle-income countries, such as Vietnam, by a factor of almost 2000. Covid-19 is an overwhelming challenge, and many factors contribute to its severity. But the one we can control is how we behave. And in the United States we have consistently behaved poorly.

We know that we could have done better. China, faced with the first outbreak, chose strict quarantine and isolation after an initial delay. These measures were severe but effective, essentially eliminating transmission at the point where the outbreak began and reducing the death rate to a reported 3 per million, as compared with more than 500 per million in the United States. Countries that had far more exchange with China, such as Singapore and South Korea, began intensive testing early, along with aggressive contact tracing and appropriate isolation, and have had relatively small outbreaks. And New Zealand has used these same measures, together with its geographic advantages, to come close to eliminating the disease, something that has allowed that country to limit the time of closure and to largely reopen society to a prepandemic level. In general, not only have many democracies done better than the United States, but they have also outperformed us by orders of magnitude.

Why has the United States handled this pandemic so badly? We have failed at almost every step. We had ample warning, but when the disease first arrived, we were incapable of testing effectively and couldn’t provide even the most basic personal protective equipment to health care workers and the general public. And we continue to be way behind the curve in testing. While the absolute numbers of tests have increased substantially, the more useful metric is the number of tests performed per infected person, a rate that puts us far down the international list, below such places as Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia, countries that cannot boast the biomedical infrastructure or the manufacturing capacity that we have.2 Moreover, a lack of emphasis on developing capacity has meant that U.S. test results are often long delayed, rendering the results useless for disease control.

Although we tend to focus on technology, most of the interventions that have large effects are not complicated. The United States instituted quarantine and isolation measures late and inconsistently, often without any effort to enforce them, after the disease had spread substantially in many communities. Our rules on social distancing have in many places been lackadaisical at best, with loosening of restrictions long before adequate disease control had been achieved. And in much of the country, people simply don’t wear masks, largely because our leaders have stated outright that masks are political tools rather than effective infection control measures. The government has appropriately invested heavily in vaccine development, but its rhetoric has politicized the development process and led to growing public distrust.

The United States came into this crisis with enormous advantages. Along with tremendous manufacturing capacity, we have a biomedical research system that is the envy of the world. We have enormous expertise in public health, health policy, and basic biology and have consistently been able to turn that expertise into new therapies and preventive measures. And much of that national expertise resides in government institutions. Yet our leaders have largely chosen to ignore and even denigrate experts.

The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate. The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was the world’s leading disease response organization, has been eviscerated and has suffered dramatic testing and policy failures. The National Institutes of Health have played a key role in vaccine development but have been excluded from much crucial government decision making. And the Food and Drug Administration has been shamefully politicized,3 appearing to respond to pressure from the administration rather than scientific evidence. Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government,4 causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.

Let’s be clear about the cost of not taking even simple measures. An outbreak that has disproportionately affected communities of color has exacerbated the tensions associated with inequality. Many of our children are missing school at critical times in their social and intellectual development. The hard work of health care professionals, who have put their lives on the line, has not been used wisely. Our current leadership takes pride in the economy, but while most of the world has opened up to some extent, the United States still suffers from disease rates that have prevented many businesses from reopening, with a resultant loss of hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs. And more than 200,000 Americans have died. Some deaths from Covid-19 were unavoidable. But, although it is impossible to project the precise number of additional American lives lost because of weak and inappropriate government policies, it is at least in the tens of thousands in a pandemic that has already killed more Americans than any conflict since World War II.

Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.

John Steinbeck and biographer William Souder make a perfect pair ~ The Washington Post

There’s an old saying that great writing is simple but not easy, and so it is. The search for that one plain but inobvious word that will do the work of five, the agony of untangling a complex idea that has become a mass of phrases in the writer’s mind, the willingness to keep doing it over and over and over again until it is right — all of that plus some luck yields prose so clear that it seems a child could have written it.”

That’s William Souder writing about the author and conservationist Rachel Carson in his 2012 biography “On a Farther Shore.” It also nicely describes the work of biographer Souder himself: painstakingly researched, psychologically nuanced, unshowy, lucid.

He is drawn in subject to American originals whose lives are marked by great success, self-doubt, and an eerie capacity and need for solitude. A fascination with and absorption in nature characterize Carson and the ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, the focus of Souder’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist “Under a Wild Sky.”AD

In his newest biography, the smart, soulful and panoramic “Mad at the World,” Souder has chosen a subject on the same continuum: John Steinbeck, another loner who, like Audubon and Carson, refined his craft through mature, dogged, self-punishing industry.

A key connecting thread between Souder’s last book and the current one is the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who was a literary model for Carson, a best friend and onetime co-author with Steinbeck, and the inspiration for the character Doc in Steinbeck’s 1945 novel “Cannery Row.” Steinbeck and Ricketts collaborated on “Sea of Cortez,” a 1941 chronicle — as hedonistic as scientific — of a voyage in the Gulf of California to collect marine specimens. One can easily imagine Souder deep into his research on Carson, becoming smitten with the Monterey mystique around Steinbeck and Ricketts, and happily awakening to his next subject.

Audubon struggled to capture some of the vast variation and abundance of American bird life. Carson sounded the alarm over the dire insecticide threat to that abundance. And Steinbeck spied a pattern that bridged nature and sociology. Assiduously trundling through the writer’s journals and letters, as well as his 33 books, Souder explains the particular importance of the “phalanx.”

“Steinbeck eventually came to believe that you could not understand humankind by looking at individuals — any more than you could interpret a human being’s behavior by looking at one of their cells,” Souder explains. “The answers were all in the phalanx, the superorganism, the group unit.” The phalanx, Steinbeck believed, is a repository of knowledge about all that humanity has endured, including, in his words, “destruction, war, migration, hatred, and fear.”

Tom Collins, director of the federal migrant camp at Arvin, Calif., known to its residents as Weedpatch. Steinbeck dedicated “The Grapes of Wrath,” in part, to Collins.
Tom Collins, director of the federal migrant camp at Arvin, Calif., known to its residents as Weedpatch. Steinbeck dedicated “The Grapes of Wrath,” in part, to Collins. (National Archives)

Souder delineates the centrality of that notion to Steinbeck’s storytelling. It is the magical ingredient that makes his characters gritty but also larger than life. In “The Grapes of Wrath,” after all, what are the Joad family and the greater migrant surge of Dust Bowl “Okies”? Phalanxes.

So, in a lighter vein, are the paisanos of “Tortilla Flat” (1935) and the bittersweet ragtag assortment of intellectuals, tradesmen, prostitutes and derelicts in “Cannery Row.” Steinbeck also describes what happens to those whom the societal phalanx rolls over, like the two hapless wanderers Lennie and George in the 1937 novella “Of Mice and Men.” Once Souder highlights the phalanx theme, in fact, a reader could become obsessed with it, charting it all the way to the corrupt Long Island suburbs of Steinbeck’s last novel, “The Winter of Our Discontent” (1961).

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William Perry Pendley says he’s still on the job as acting director of Bureau of Land Management ~ The Colorado Sun


Pendley said he firmly disagreed with a court’s decision that he should be removed from BLM and has continued to fulfill his duties as assigned

By Camille Erickson, Casper Star-Tribune

CASPER, Wyo. — William Perry Pendley wants Wyoming to know that he’s still on the job as the nation’s acting head of public lands.

“I have not been ousted. That is not true,” Pendley, the Bureau of Land Management’s deputy director of policy and programs, said during an interview with the Star-Tribune on Thursday.

Pendley’s choice to defend his role managing 245 million acres of the nation’s surface land comes just weeks after a federal court in Montana declared Pendley had “served unlawfully as the Acting BLM director for 424 days.” The decision effectively enjoined him from acting in a director capacity, according to court documents.

Secretary of the Interior Department David Bernhardt had issued and renewed orders to give Pendley the authority to act as the agency’s head. Pendley called the orders allowing him to serve as an acting director “perfectly legal.”

But according to District Judge Brian Morris’ Sept. 25 decision, the Trump administration failed to properly follow the statutory requirements of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act when allowing Pendley to remain in his post as a temporary appointee for 15 months. What’s more, the administration failed to garner an official confirmation vote from Congress on the appointment as head of the bureau, as required by law.

Pendley said he firmly disagreed with the court’s decision and has continued to fulfill his duties as assigned.

“We are going to recognize that authority of the court and will obey it,” he said, adding, “now the Secretary (Bernhardt) is signing all of our (BLM) documents.”

The Trump administration has vowed to appeal the decision, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

“I see this for what it is. It’s not about me,” Pendley added. “This is just an attempt by the governor, who sued us, to derail what the Trump administration has done.”

This summer, President Donald Trump announced his intent to formally nominate Pendley, but never followed through. When asked if a nomination process would happen in the near future to officially appoint him as BLM’s director, Pendley said, “I don’t know, that’s out of my control.”

For Wyoming, the BLM’s top dog can have huge influence over the state. Of Wyoming’s over 60 million surface acres, almost half is considered federal land. The state also produces more minerals from public land than almost any other state in the country, contributing 38% of the natural gas produced on federal land nationwide, along with 16% of oil production.

The former oil and gas attorney has deep roots in Wyoming, and several conflicts of interest, which significantly limited what Pendley could speak about during his interview with the Star-Tribune.

Pendley has been a vocal supporter of Trump’s America-First Energy Strategy, often relaxing regulations for oil and gas producers in an effort to cut back on duplicative reporting mandates and spur domestic energy development. Pendley said his goal is to advance Trump’s agenda of “building the economy, providing for jobs, increasing recreational opportunities, and just being a better neighbor as a land management agency.”

In addition to instituting several rule changes to ease the regulatory burdens on energy companies, the BLM under Pendley has also helped bring about the Great American Outdoors Act, moved the BLM’s headquarters to Colorado and prepared firefighters to battle fires during COVID-19.

But several conservation groups in Wyoming have long protested what they call the unconstitutional appointment of Pendley to lead the BLM in any capacity. Many have alleged he his position by opening up too much federal land to energy development, rolling back environmental protections to serve private interests at the expense of the climate and negating the bureau’s multiple use mandate.

In the most recent wrinkle in the case against Pendley, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock struck again by requesting a court block three resource management plans approved by Pendley, which among other changes, made available sweeping swaths of public land for oil and gas development.

On Monday, conservation groups, including Western Environmental Law Center, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians filed a brief providing the court with examples of actions taken under Pendley. The groups listed amendments for a resource management plan amendment to make way for the Moneta Divide oil and gas project in Wyoming as an example, according to court documents reviewed by the Star-Tribune.

The recent litigation against Pendley has roiled some concern among oil and gas operators, fearful the decision could invalidate decisions made by the Wyoming native during his tenure.

friendly people out there

Investigators are offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of those responsible for placing a black bear skin with head and a cardboard sign that read “from here to the lake black lives don’t matter” on an entrance sign to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Walland, TN, according to a release from the National Park.


The drought is happening just a year after most of Colorado was declared drought-free.


The summer drought that lingered throughout Colorado has become worse.

The entire state is currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions and nearly 17% of the land area is in exceptional drought, the most extreme category, the U.S. Drought Monitor said.

The drought is happening just a year after most of Colorado was declared drought-free.

The western part of the state has been hit the hardest, with Kiowa County on the Eastern Plains also experiencing exceptional drought, which can bring dust storms and cripple agriculture, Colorado Public Radio reported.

Conditions have deteriorated over the past year due to drier conditions, warmer temperatures and a higher level of evaporation. It has also been a perfect backdrop for wildfires.

“That’s exactly why we’re still seeing a high fire danger and still seeing active fires in places,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the U.S. Drought Monitor. “Typically this time of year we’re cooling off and starting to get wetter. That just hasn’t happened yet.”

There are several active fires in the state, the largest of which is in Larimer County in the north. The Cameron Peak fire has torched more than 200 square miles (518 square kilometers) and is 42% contained. A fire began on Wednesday just south of Kremmling near Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests. The wildfire burned more than 80 acres (32 hectares) in just a few hours, prompting evacuations.

It is the fourth time in two decades — following 2002, 2006 and 2012 — that the entire state has been classified as abnormally dry or in drought.

Tom Renwick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the state could return to pre-2020 figures as long as the winter provides some precipitation.

“If we get a decent winter, and it doesn’t have to be, ‘Oh my God, the most amazing winter ever,’ but a decent winter with a decent amount of snowfall, we’ll get rid of the drought,” Renwick said. “It looks really bad, but you know, I wouldn’t freak out just yet.”


Seven big takeaways from Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper’s third — and most fiery — debate ~ The Colorado Sun

DENVER, CO – OCTOBER 9: The U.S. Senate debate between Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took place at the Denver7 studio in Denver, Colorado on Friday, October 9, 2020. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Republican incumbent Cory Gardner and Democrat John Hickenlooper faced off in the third of four U.S. Senate debates on Friday, hours after Colorado elections officials began mailing ballots to voters across the state. 

The 90-minute faceoff, hosted by Denver7, The Denver Post and Colorado Public Radio, covered many expected topics: health care, immigration, Hickenlooper’s ethics violations and Gardner’s close ties to President Donald Trump. 

But the two candidates in one of the nation’s most-watched contests this year also delved into some new territory. At times, both Gardner and Hickenlooper, Colorado’s former governor, evaded a number of tough questions, too. 

Here are seven big takeaways from the debate:

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Gardner on the offensive, swinging harder

Gardner, who polls have consistently shown is trailing Hickenlooper in the Senate race, used  the first two debates to take verbal swings at Hickenlooper. Friday was no different, though Gardner seemed to be swinging harder, using a great deal of his time to press his opponent and attack him. 

It makes sense: Part of Gardner’s plan to close the gap with Hickenlooper is to use the debates to show a clear contrast. And time is running out with Election Day only about three weeks away.

“You can’t trust John Hicknelooper,” Gardner said, pointing to Hickenlooper’s ethics violations

Gardner also tried to paint Hickenlooper as self-centered. “It’s all about you and it’s got to stop,” he said at one point. 

But Hickenlooper never really engaged, brushing off the attacks and saying Gardner was only going on the offensive because he is trailing and has a record he can’t defend. “I don’t think it’s going to stop at any point,” he said.

Hickenlooper added that he thinks Coloradans will “see right through” Gardner’s attacks.

“He knows his allegations really don’t carry much water,” Hickenlooper said. “… To distort statistics is really never going to get us anywhere.”

Gardner accused Hickenlooper of running the most negative campaign of his political career since the former governor has, for the first time, run attack ads. Hickenlooper said he felt he had to go negative because of all the money being spent against him.



Republicans’ U.S. Supreme Court push may box in Cory Gardner ~ THE COLORADO SUN

Cory Gardner’s reelection hinges on convincing the state’s crucial slice of independent voters he’s a nonpartisan problem-solver who will look out for the state

By Nicholas RiccardiThe Associated Press

Six years ago, Colorado Democrats failed to convince enough voters to reject Cory Gardner’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Their warnings that the Republican could, someday, be the confirming vote for a Supreme Court justice who could overturn Roe v. Wade proved ineffective.

Now Gardner, 46, is poised to be one of the votes that places President Donald Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court just before the election. And Democrats think they have the votes to punish him for it.

Gardner has long been considered both one of the nimblest Republican politicians and also one of the most vulnerable. His 2014 run was praised as the best Senate campaign that year for defusing Democratic attacks about his role in a “war on women” and staying on message. But he’s also a Republican in a state that has shifted sharply to Democrats since Trump was elected — the president lost the state by 5% in 2016 and then Democrats won the governorship by 11% and every other statewide race in 2018. Gardner has struggled to escape the president’s long shadow.

“Luck and timing are everything in politics, and Cory’s on the wrong end of all these elements,” said Mike Stratton, a Democratic strategist who advised the man Gardner ousted in 2014, Sen. Mark Udall.

Gardner is now up against John Hickenlooper, a popular former two-term governor of Colorado and Denver mayor.

Gardner’s reelection hinges on convincing the state’s crucial slice of independent voters he’s a nonpartisan problem-solver who will look out for the state. On the campaign trail, he’s emphasized his work on state-centric, uncontroversial issues — moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to western Colorado, co-writing a bill to fund maintenance at national parks and creating a national suicide prevention number.

“I vote 100% of the time for the people of Colorado,” Gardner said during a debate Friday evening..

But Gardner’s also been a reliable vote for his party under Trump. The president praised Gardner for being on his side “100% of the time” at a rally in February, and voters got another reminder of that when Gardner said he supports Barrett’s nomination. Republicans acknowledge that may be enough to prevent him from escaping Trump’s downward pull.

“I’m saying a prayer he doesn’t get swept out by our president,” said Linda Heintz, 71, a registered Republican in suburban Denver who plans to vote early for Gardner. Heintz still hasn’t decided whether she can vote for Trump but figured Gardner was a no-brainer.

“He’s done nothing to not deserve reelection,” she said, acknowledging she doesn’t think many others in the state agree with her view.

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