Friday, September 13, 2019

Job Growth: First Six Months in Colorado

Although Boulder, the heartland of the new Colorado Democrats, has the top job growth the first six months of 2019 (a little surprising since they often eschew growth and jobs), it is shared with Republican Colorado with Grand Junction, Greeley and Colorado Springs joining it in the top four.

Will Hickenlooper Run for Senate? Rudin’s Weekly Podcast

Ken Rudin
Ken Rudin’s weekly podcast featured John Hickenlooper on the day he quit his unsuccessful presidential race and started speculation on a U.S. Senate run against Cory Gardner. Rudin, for years, was a regular on NPR’s All Things Considered with his feature show, “Political Junkie.”

After a long conversation on Hickenlooper’s failed presidential campaign and the 2020 political environment in Colorado, Rudin asked me three questions?
  1. Will Hickenlooper run for senate?
  2. If there is a primary, will he win it?
  3. Will he win the general election?
    • I answered the last question first. Odds are very high Hickenlooper would win senate race. But, as of today, the year looks so positive for Democrats, several of the top declared candidates could likely win.
    • The field can’t be cleared. There will be a primary. The national and Colorado Democratic political establishment has limited influence in Colorado. The top candidates have raised more money for their senate campaigns than Hickenlooper for his presidential campaign. Hickenlooper has never been in a Colorado primary contest, and the activists in the party have many objections to Hickenlooper’s Colorado record and presidential politics. 
    • The pressure on Hickenlooper to run is growing, even as he has said it may not be a good fit for him. He will not be able to wait for months to decide. The people in the field are building fundraising bases and grassroots organizers.
Listen to my speculations here
Ken Rudin's "Political Junkie" website

Rudin goes in-depth on issues. This week, besides Hickenlooper, he featured a Democratic pollster on whether after years of inactivity on gun control has the politics changed (Yes!)? Also, he examined why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential ambitions have stalled. Is it at least partially due to Democratic activists and funders unhappy with her role in Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate (Yes!)?

Listen to the full interview here

News From the Campaign – Medicare for All in Trouble and Guns in Duck and Cover

Medicare for All

New polling shows voters with reservations about Medicare for All’s cost and impact on private insurance. Bernie Sanders’s and Elizabeth Warren’s proposal is under assault by Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet and all the party’s moderates. They are warning that if the goal is to win the election and not just ideological fights, Medicare for All is a general election liability. Numerous polls agree.


And, although a majority of Democratic voters still like it, even larger majorities support the Affordable Care Act with improvements. Especially popular is the public option, which Biden and other moderates support.

Guns After El Paso and Dayton

After the El Paso and Dayton shootings, polls are detecting a shift in opinion on guns that may not be as temporary as after previous mass shootings. The desire for gun legislation appears broader and deeper than after the tragedies at Sandy Hook or Parkland. How long lasting is yet to be determined, but more than 90 percent of the public support gun background registration and more than two-thirds support Red Flag laws. President Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled movement on the issues, at least partially to protect Republicans in swing states and districts.


In 2018, former Congressman Michael Coffman was on the defensive in his suburban Denver district due to his high level of NRA contributions. He got little help from Trump or Congress. Currently, Cory Gardner is 4th on the national contribution list.

Placement and Polls Structure the Debate

As expected, the July Democratic debates mostly reinforced the positions of the polling leaders. The placement of the top tier candidates between the two nights set the dynamics for the show. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren dominated the first debate and the topics became the promotion and defense of their left position, especially on health care. The most interesting dynamic was a group of moderates challenging the frontrunners speaking and grabbing some attention.

The “1” percent challengers – Steve Bullock, Amy Klobuchar and John Delaney – all got more than ten minutes. Although John Hickenlooper got a couple of good exchanges, he didn’t engage much.


Joe Biden was the dominant participant the second night, with race the main topic, especially for Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. The three of them got the most time, and Biden and Harris spent a major portion of it defending themselves and their records.

Michael Bennet was the only moderate besides Biden, and he challenged the left’s attack on race as focusing on ancient history and not the problems of today. He also criticized Harris and her health care proposal as a dishonest presentation of the cost.

A couple of rounds of national polls are now out, and there was little repositioning detectable due to debate performance.

The debate criteria will shortly limit the field, but the events are having modest impact.

Does Hickenlooper’s Presidential Campaign End August 28? Interview With April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz at KOA

August 28 is the last day for Democratic presidential candidates to qualify for the September 12 (and 13 if needed) Democratic debate. John Hickenlooper is not even close to qualifying with having made 2 percent, the threshold in only one national poll, and receiving no measurable support in several others conducted post the July debates. He’s now at the bottom of the list of 21 candidates reported by RealClearPolitics with a 0.0 average. In fact, in the latest list, he’s been dropped as Tom Steyer was added. There is also a donor threshold of 130,000, which he’s far from meeting.

Hickenlooper’s campaign for president is effectively over.

National media and pundits have written him off. Nearly all stories about him now include a reference to observers’ beliefs he might have a better chance to run for the Colorado senate seat held by Cory Gardner. A new poll says he starts with a huge advantage in name identification. Although, a new round of stories now includes commentary that the Colorado senate option may not be easy.

When does Hickenlooper get out of the race? He could wait around until later in September because the October debate will use the same criteria, but why? He’ll miss the September debate and is unlikely to be missed. He could ride the Winnebago around Iowa until the February 3 caucus, but it would be a waste of time and gas. It’s over. He gave it a good run, but it simply didn’t take. Even he seems to realize it with his statement reported in the Colorado Springs Gazette and The Hill: “He would be a ‘fool’ to continue his longshot bid if he doesn’t see change in polls.”

Listen to KOA interview here

John Hickenlooper and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand flip
pork chops at the 2019 Iowa State Fair | Photo: Gary He

Arapahoe County Gets Polling Data on New Jail

In a recently completed poll for Arapahoe County fixing the crowded jail was supported by 63 percent of likely November voters. The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted at the end of July, with 401 likely November Arapahoe County voters (±4.9 percentage points).

Proposals for a new jail, courthouse and DA’s office were being reviewed by a committee of county residents assembled by the county commissioners.

Voters were only modestly supportive of new taxes to build the $464 million jail with a new detention center. About one-half said they would vote for a property or sales tax increase. Only 28 percent were supportive of a property tax increase for a more extensive $1 billion complex of a new jail, courthouse and DA’s office.

Freda Miklin reported the story in the August 7 Villager. Read here

Floyd Ciruli and South Denver Economic Development Partnership
Senior VP Lynn Myers talked about the aging Arapahoe
County criminal justice facilities | Photo: Freda Miklin

Hickenlooper Gets a Meme, But is it Goodbye? – KOA

John Hickenlooper speaks during Democratic presidential 
primary debate in Detroit, July 30, 2019 | Paul Sancya/AP
John Hickenlooper got one of the lines of the night in an animated exchange with Bernie Sanders when he said Sanders’s “Medicine for All” was radical and would “FedEx the election to Trump.” Sanders threw his arms up in frustration over the word “radical” and Hickenlooper mocked him in an arm wave that made social media. Hickenlooper was one of five moderate Democrats that took on the left’s frontrunners: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

In a discussion with KOA’s April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz after the debate, I highlighted some comments on a debate full of controversy and possibly the last debate participation for several candidates.
  1. The debate highlighted the divide between the party’s left wing represented by Sanders and Warren (representing about 30% of the party) and a moderate wing that finally spoke up and had a message.
  2. Although, as usual, the frontrunners dominated the time. Five moderates, all struggling for a spot in the September debates, made their mark. Hickenlooper, with a meme, was joined by a little recognized John Delaney, new participant Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana Amy Klobuchar and Tim Ryan, all hunting for their breakout moment.
  3. The challengers to liberal orthodoxy had a number of good lines that will now be repeated as the debates extend to the fall.
    • Steve Bullock – Wish-list economics, here and now, not pie-in-the-sky
    • John Delaney – Democrats now have their own repeal and replace – your health care insurance will become illegal (no doubt Donald Trump will say “and making illegal immigrants legal).
    • Amy Klobuchar – It’s not winning the argument, but the election.
  4. The Sanders/Warren counter-strategy was well-thought-out because they have been dealing with the criticism for months, if not years.
    • Our opponents lack ambition and courage (Warren)
    • Why run if you don’t want to overturn the system (Warren)
    • Talking about what they won’t do, won’t fight for (Warren)
    • I win in the polls (Sanders)
    • We’re all extremist to Trump (Buttigieg)
    • None of the lines will stop the arguments, and the least persuasive, but most frequently used by the left is “stop using Republican talking points.” If the criticism is valid, fact based, who cares if it came from the RNC, DNC, ACLU or NAACP.
  5. Hickenlooper performed well, but his moment was crowded out by the two frontrunners – Sanders and Warren – getting most of the time and by four fellow “one” percenters fighting for their space.
Shortly before the debate, a group of leading Democratic senators were quoted as encouraging Hickenlooper to shift to the Colorado U.S. Senate race. It was both a prudent encouragement for their priority to win the senate, but also a realistic assessment of Hickenlooper’s very slim chance of getting into the first tier of candidates.

The next round of polls and fundraising will tell the story, but clearly Hickenlooper loves being on stage. His final line of the night was: “What a night, I love it.” It may be his final debate line period.