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Since entering the race for U.S. Senate a year ago, John Hickenlooper has believed health care is the top issue on the minds of voters.
With 68 days to go before the Nov. 3 election, the Democratic former governor is unveiling new ads on the topic and touting a plan that is both moderate by current Democratic standards and considered socialized medicine by Republicans, including Sen. Cory Gardner, his opponent.
Hickenlooper’s strategy counts on voters — largely focused this year on a pandemic that has killed 180,000 Americans and a crushing economic downturn — to have health care near the front of their minds before they mail in ballots this fall. Nationwide polling released by Pew last week found only the economy trumps health care as the top issue among voters.
Hickenlooper’s latest TV ad and a recent digital ad are both about health care. The TV spot is a montage of Coloradans talking about the joys of receiving insurance for the first time. A narrator claims Hickenlooper expanded health coverage for 500,000 Coloradans, a reference to the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion that accompanied it, which he signed into law.
In his bids for both president and senator, Hickenlooper has staked hope on his belief that most people want a solution somewhere between repealing Obamacare and enacting Medicare for All. That solution, in his mind, is a government insurance plan. Hickenlooper expects that slowly, over the course of maybe 15 years, everyone will sign on to the public option.
“But it will be an evolution, not a revolution,” he likes to say.
The issue for progressives is the slowness. As Hickenlooper’s former Democratic primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff, once told Hickenlooper during a debate, “I don’t believe this is a time for timidity and telling folks they have to wait for a slow evolution is heartless.”
The issue for conservatives is the government’s role. They look at Hickenlooper’s end goal — everyone using a government plan for health insurance — and see “socialized medicine.”
“Even John Hickenlooper wants to reverse the Affordable Care Act because he supports socialized medicine,” Gardner told Colorado Public Radio on July 1.
On health care, Hickenlooper finds himself in two familiar roles: defender of policies he previously implemented, and resistor of rapid change. He plays a similar role on the environment — defending methane regulations, resisting a Green New Deal — and a number of other issues. At his core, he is an incrementalist and he believes most voters are, too.
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Congressional candidate Lauren Boebert — who often espouses a pro-police, law-and-order message on the campaign trail — has been arrested and summonsed at least four times over the past decade, records show. While the three arrests and one court-ordered summons were for petty crimes — and in one case all charges were dropped — Boebert’s record is unusually long for a congressional candidate.
Capitol Diary • By Saja Hindi
Taking a stab at the eviction problem
Gov. Jared Polis has continued to face criticism about not taking enough action to prevent evictions during the coronavirus pandemic and his support of homeless sweeps in Denver, but he’s hoping a new initiative will come up with solutions.
Last month, he said he would not only welcome the removal of homeless camps from state property but that he’d encourage it. Colorado State Patrol was then given authority to take part in such removals. Experts have denounced such sweeps.
This week, the governor announced a temporary, 10-person task force that would study housing instability and develop recommendations within a month.
“The looming housing issue is really a complicated challenge,” Polis said at the news conference. “There’s no easy solution.”
The working group will help Colorado lead the way on housing issues, including alleviating financial hardships and boosting housing capacity, Polis said.
But as CPR has reported, not everyone is excited about the Special Eviction Task Force, with some objecting that the members of the task force don’t include renter advocates.
Denver Councilwoman Jamie Torres tweeted to the governor that a west Denver housing group that works with housing-insecure residents wants to link up with the task force. She told The Denver Post she’s glad the conversations are starting again because local solutions are not enough.
“I hope that they’re able to really absorb how much of an immediate issue this is,” Torres said.
The task force appointees:
- Chris Romer of Denver, former state senator and CEO of Project Canary
- Skippy Leigh Upton Mesirow, Aspen City Council member
- Andrew Feinstein of Denver, CEO of Extended Downtown Development
- Rachel Friend, Boulder City Council member
- Ty L. Coleman, mayor of Alamosa
- Jennifer Kermode of Gunnison, housing authority executive director
- Jennifer Linda Rodgers of Denver, vice president of Enterprise Community Partners
- Beatriz Gonzalez of Broomfield, business development officer at Bank of the West
- Andy Newell of Greenwood Village, CEO/CFO of Monarch Investment & Management Group
- Leanne Denise Wheeler of Aurora, homeless prevention advocate and CEO of The Wheeler Advisory Group
More Colorado political news
- House Minority Leader Patrick Neville sues Gov. Jared Polis over coronavirus safety orders.
- Measures to create paid family and medical leave program and require voter approval of new fees qualify for the ballot.
- Proponents of conservative and progressive ballot measures both believe high turnout will help their causes.
- A Colorado congressional candidate removes Elijah McClain’s name from his event at the family’s request.
#COSen 2020 • By Justin Wingerter
The debate over debates
With 68 days to go, a total of one debate between Gardner and Hickenlooper has been agreed to by both campaigns and none are scheduled in Colorado’s most closely watched U.S. House race.
The debate over debates flared up again Tuesday, with Senate campaigns arguing publicly about who is to blame for their stalemate. When the smoke cleared, the situation remained unchanged.
Gardner’s campaign has agreed to five debates and Hickenlooper’s campaign has agreed to four, but a Venn diagram of those nine would show only one agreed to by both. That’s a Pueblo Chieftain debate Oct 2.
Gardner tends to prefer September debates with a rural focus; Hickenlooper tends to prefer October debates hosted by bigger news outlets. Each campaign accuses the other of ignoring certain constituencies.
The situation isn’t any more amicable in the 3rd District race. Diane Mitsch Bush bailed on a Club 20 debate in Grand Junction, despite being a past Club 20 board member, and instead proposed a Pueblo Chieftain debate with Lauren Boebert in early October. But the campaigns say they have been unable to agree on a date and time.
More federal election news
- Boebert will be at the White House tonight for the president’s acceptance speech.
- Gardner released a new TV ad Wednesday with this closing line: “Count on Hickenlooper for beer and me to get things done.”
- This CPR story is about split-ticket voters and Colorado’s suburban swing districts.
Presidential race in Colorado • By Jon Murray
Libertarian heads to the state
Colorado will host its first presidential candidate visit in months this weekend — but it won’t be President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The Libertarian Party’s Jo Jorgensen will pull into Parker on her campaign bus Saturday to headline a rally.
The outdoor event will be sandwiched between the Libertarian Party of Colorado’s daylong candidate-training program and an evening gala, which Jorgensen also plans to attend. The candidate will be joined for the rally by Raymon Doane, who’s running under the party’s banner for U.S. Senate.
It’s too late to score a ticket to the 5 p.m. rally outside the Vehicle Vault venue, given the limited quantity available under public health caps on crowds, state party chair Victoria Reynolds said.
Jorgensen is the Libertarians’ first female nominee for president. She has a tough act to follow, since the 2016 nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, set a party record by winning more than 3% of the vote nationwide. That’s roughly three times the proportion won by the party in other recent presidential elections.
Polling suggests more voters are sticking to the major-party candidates so far this year, with Jorgensen drawing 1%-2% in most recent polls that listed her as an option.
More presidential race news
- Here are the candidates who have qualified for Colorado’s presidential ballot so far. They include rapper Kanye West, who has made the ballot in at least eight states — but has fallen short in several others, Forbes reports.
- Biden has dramatically outspent Trump on TV ads during the week of the Republican National Convention, ABC News reports.
Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson
Taking attendance at City Council
Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca has had a rough couple of weeks at council meetings as her colleagues have blocked her attempts to place four different questions on the city’s November ballot.
But it’s what happened after the votes this past Monday and Aug. 17 that caught the eye of some: CdeBaca left the meeting early.
The bulk of the council meetings had finished on both occasions, but CdeBaca did miss about seven votes. If she had stayed through the meetings and voted, none of the results would have changed, as remaining council members approved the items unanimously.
But she was absent Aug. 17 for a decision on a rezoning issue within her own district. During that meeting, council members sent three of CdeBaca’s proposed ballot measures back to committee, effectively keeping them off this year’s ballot. Two were meant as checks on the mayor’s authority and a third would have abolished the city’s police department.
A crowd had attended the meeting in person alongside CdeBaca, the only council member in chambers for it. After the vote, council took a short break and returned — except for CdeBaca.
“After the proposals were defeated, constituents were understandably upset by not only the defeat, but by some of the insensitive comments made by Councilmembers in voting the bills down,” CdeBaca said in a statement. “During Council recess they asked for a debrief, which became my priority that night given the circumstances.”
After she left, the council heard a zoning change request for the Women’s Bean Project’s property at 3201 Curtis St. That property sits in CdeBaca’s district, and the request raised questions about gentrification in the neighborhood and whether the organization had been fully transparent with its documentation.
Ultimately, council approved the request 12-0, with CdeBaca absent. The group also approved three other zoning change requests that night without her. Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval was also absent for two of those votes.
As for CdeBaca’s departure after this Monday’s vote on another of her proposed ballot measures, she said: “There was a gathering at Manual High School, in my district, in response to Jacob Blake’s shooting by police in Kenosha. I went there in support of our community that has been continually traumatized by police brutality close to home and across the country.”
Representing constituents isn’t something solely accomplished inside council chambers, she added. It’s “also done in places when and where they need you the most.”
More Denver and suburban political news
- Denver officials cited outbreaks of Hepatitis and Shigella when they resumed homeless sweeps last month, but a national expert says the numbers of positive tests don’t justify the actions.
- Avoid the big-name rental companies when you’re visiting, or loan out your vehicle as part of the two car-sharing pilot programs approved by City Council at the Denver International Airport.
- Denverites will vote in November whether to impose a 0.25% sales tax in the city to fund services and other amenities for people experiencing homelessness.
- As cities and counties across the country repeal breed-specific laws banning pit bulls, Denver and its largest neighbor, Aurora, are now on different trajectories with their bans.
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