Colorado

CO Senate: Udall won’t say if he’ll campaign with Obama

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insists that vulnerable Senate Democrats will campaign with President Barack Obama as they seek reelection in this year’s mid-term election. But some members of conference aren’t playing along.

Shortly after the State of the Union address, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) refused to give a direct answer to when he was asked whether he would campaign with President Obama. Instead, Udall said that his campaign staff and White House would have to check their schedules.

“We’re going to be running a strong campaign based on Colorado’s interests and Colorado’s future,” Udall told CNN reporter Dana Bash. “My job, I think, is to protect Colorado’s way of life.”

“That was not a yes or no. Yes or No?” Bash asked.

“We’ll see what the president’s schedule is; we’ll see what my schedule is. But Coloradans are going to re-elect me based on my record, not the president’s record,” the Democratic senator replied. “Not what the president’s done, but what I’ve done and how I have stood up for Colorado. That’s the case I’m going to make to Coloradoans.”

Bash was taken aback by Udall’s reluctance to answer a very simple question. Still, she asked one more time, to which the Udall replied, “We’ll see what the schedule allows. I’m running for re-election, not the president of Colorado.”

NRSC pens letter to Udall over staff’s intimidation tactics

Mark Udall

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has fired off a letter to Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) over reports that his staff pressured Colorado insurance officials to revise the number of canceled health plans in the state.

According to emails obtained by CompleteColorado.com, members of Udall’s staff disputed that 249,199 health policies had been canceled or terminated, as was reported by the Colorado Division of Insurance in November. When state insurance officials stood by the number, Udall’s legislative director, Joe Britton, made good on a threat to take the dispute public.

“According to news reports, members of your taxpayer-funded staff may have bullied Jo Donlin, Director of External Affairs at the Division of Insurance, on multiple occasions,” wrote Rob Collins, executive director of the NRSC, to Udall. “Multiple news reports outline what appear to be attempts by your staff to coerce Ms. Donlin into manipulating the number of insurance cancellations due to the Affordable Care Act to a lower, inaccurate number.”

In emails to colleagues, Donlin said that she “felt intimidated” by Britton and described the tone of communications with Udall’s staff as “very hostile.” Collins referred to her comments in the letter to the Colorado Democrat, noting that he was not only aware of his staff’s behavior, but also “defended them.”

Democratic senator’s staff pressured Colorado officials on canceled health plan numbers

Mark Udall

If Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) didn’t want canceled health plans to become a political controversy, then he shouldn’t have voted with his Democratic colleagues to approve the Obamacare regulations that caused 249,199 Coloradans to lose their coverage.

Instead of accepting his role in this particular Obamacare debacle, in November, Udall’s staff actually tried to pressure Colorado insurance officials to revise the number of canceled health plans, according to emails obtained by CompleteColorado.com.

“Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong. They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers,” wrote Jo Donlin, a Colorado Division of Insurance official, in an email to colleagues on November 15. ”I’m holding strong while we get more details. Many have already done early renewals. Regardless, they received cancellation notices.”

Donlin explained in a separate email to a Udall staffer, Joe Britton, that the numbers came from data provided by insurance companies operating in the state. She noted that the Colorado Division of Insurance did require insurers to allow early renewal, which, as indicated in her comments above, was an option that some affected Coloradans chose.

Udall’s staff wasn’t satisfied with the response.

“We need to move on this ASAP – or we’ll be forced to challenge the 249K number ourselves,” wrote Britton in a threatening email to another Colorado Division of Insurance official. “It is wildly off or at least very misleading and reporters keep repeating it.”

Colorado senator fires staffer for having a Republican friend

Irene Aguilar

A legislative aide to a Colorado state senator alleges that he was fired for visiting a colleague and friend who works inside a Republican office, according to a report from Campus Reform (emphasis added):

Tyler Drum, a 21-year-old homosexual aide to Democrat state Senator Irene Aguilar, was fired on the spot from his position in the Colorado Senate because he allegedly visited the office of a fellow college aide who happens to work for a Republican.

Drum, a 2013 graduate of Colorado State University, told Campus Reform that Aguilar did not explain why he had been fired.

“She just said leadership was uncomfortable with me befriending Republicans,” Drum said.
[…]
Drum, who is a registered Democrat, is disappointed in his firing.

“I thought this would happen on the Republican side, now I’m a disenchanted Democrat,” he said.

Colorado Democrats saw their majority in the legislature’s upper chamber diminished last year after pro-Second Amendment activists successfully recalled two anti-gun state senators, including Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs). The grassroots activists were motivated by onerous gun control measures passed by the state legislature.

A third state senator who was the target of a recall effort resigned to ensure that Colorado Democrats would maintain control of the seat. Moreover, recent polls out of Colorado show that Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, could be vulnerable this fall, depending on who Republicans decide to run against him.

Anti-gun Colorado senator resigns amid recall push

Staring down a recall effort launched by Second Amendment advocates because of her support for onerous gun control regulations passed earlier this year, state Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminister) decided to resign rather than face what ostensibly would have been a referendum on her anti-gun record.

“One year ago, on the day before Thanksgiving 2012, I was informed that all the ballots had been counted and I had won reelection to the State Senate with 35,664 votes,” wrote Hudak in a letter posted on her campaign website. “I was thankful for the opportunity to spend the next four years of my life serving Colorado and fighting for middle-class jobs, high-quality educational opportunities, and public safety.

“However, now on the day before Thanksgiving 2013, in the interest of preserving the progress made over the last year, I am resigning as State Senator for District 19, effective immediately,” she declared.

Hudak defended economic legislation passed by the Colorado General Assembly. She also defended the anti-gun law she voted for in March. She also said that “[b]y resigning, [she is] making sure that Jefferson County taxpayers aren’t forced to pay more than $200,000 for a special election,” citing spending cuts that have been made by that local government.

Gun rights groups hailed the news, claiming Hudak’s resignation as a victory and a sign of things to come next year.

Colorado’s Obamacare exchange producing fewer enrollments than worst-case scenario

Colorado Obamacare exchange

Colorado was a bright spot for the Obama Administration in October as the state’s exchange produced, roughly, 59% of the projected Obamacare enrollments for the month, using the loose definition of the term. But The Denver Post reported on Monday that the state is still coming up short, barely meeting half of the projected worst-case scenario (emphasis added):

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act through Colorado’s health insurance exchange is barely half the state’s worst-case projection, prompting demands from exchange board members for better stewardship of public money.

The shortfall could compromise the exchange’s “ability to deliver on promises made to Colorado citizens” and threatens the funding stream for the exchange itself, according to board e-mails obtained by The Denver Post in an open records request.

The exchange, meant for individuals and small groups buying insurance, had projected a lowest-level mid-November enrollment of 11,108, in a presentation to a board finance committee. The exchange announced Nov. 18 that it had signed up 6,001 Coloradans so far.

The midlevel scenario for November was 20,186 members, and the highest projection 30,944 members.

Colorado gun rights activists ready a second recall campaign

Evie Hudak

Nearly a month after successfully recalling two anti-gun state senators, Colorado gun rights activists are planning a recall campaign against State Sen. Evie Hudak, a Democrat who voted for new onerous gun control measures passed earlier this year by the state legislature:

A renewed and spirited effort is now underway to  Sen. Evie Hudak, a Democrat from Westminster, less than six months after an initial effort faltered.

Organizers from within Senate District 19 were certified by the Secretary of State late Friday to begin gathering signatures to have a recall placed on the ballot. The group, “Recall Hudak, too,” must gather about 18,900 valid signatures within a 60-day time frame, and on its website the group even has a running ticker that counts down to the deadline.

“She has infringed upon our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. She has voted to make all citizens less safe and to drive hundreds of jobs from Colorado,” reads an excerpt of the petition language e-mailed by Mike McAlpine, a spokesman for the group.

Colorado Congressman loses health insurance coverage

Cory Gardner

Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, is feeling the same frustration and outrage that many Americans have felt when they opened a letter from their insurance company in the age of ObamaCare.

Unlike most members of Congress, Gardner, who was first elected in 2010, chose to take a private health insurance plan instead of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). But last month, he and his wife received a notice from their insurance company that the plan they had would be canceled at the end of the year.

“I purchased insurance from the private market because I wanted to be enrolled in the same health insurance network that all Coloradans have access to. It’s the same type of plan that many of my friends and neighbors in Yuma and across Colorado have,” wrote Gardner last week in an op-ed at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“When I heard my family’s plan was going to be discontinued, I felt blindsided. And I am not alone,” he explained. “Millions of people are seeing changes to their health care coverage as insurers scramble to come into compliance with the health care law’s thousands of pages of regulations. And these regulations aren’t just forcing changes to health care coverage; they’re driving premiums up at an alarming rate.”

Gardner noted that Coloradans will see insurance premiums increase on both the individual and small group health insurance markets, largely because of ObamaCare. He also explained that his insurance premiums will more than double with the closest comparable plan, jumping from $650 to $1,480 per month.

Gun rights group sues Colorado government over new anti-gun laws

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

The fight over Colorado’s new gun control laws didn’t end with the recent recall of two anti-gun state senators. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), a Colorado-based organization associated with the National Association for Gun Rights, has filed a lawsuit against the new gun control laws.

The new laws, which were passed by the Colorado legislature in March and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), took effect on July 1. They include a ban on high-capacity magazine and universal background checks.

The suit filed by RMGO in Colorado State District Court says the new gun control laws infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens.

“Rocky Mountain Gun Owners will fight to keep the constitutional rights of Coloradans intact by challenging these laws on every front,” said Dudley Brown, executive director of the gun rights organization, in a press release last week. “Two anti-gun Colorado senators were rejected by their constituents [on September 10], and we are now looking to overturn these laws in court.”

Anti-gun Colorado Democrats defeated in recall election

Anti-gun politics are bad for electoral health. That’s a lesson two Colorado Democrats learned on Tuesday night.

Colorado Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and State Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) were recalled by voters in their respective districts in what was considered to be a referendum on onerous new gun control regulations passed by the legislature earlier this year.

Both pro-Second Amendment and anti-gun groups invested heavily in the race. The Denver Post noted earlier this week that anti-gun groups raised some $3.5 million to help the two Democrats, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $350,000 contribution. Pro-gun groups raised $540,000.

Despite the heavy spending from anti-gun groups, voters in Colorado’s 3rd State Senate district recalled Giron, 56/44, and elected George Rivera, a Republican, to take her place in the legislature’s upper chamber.

Morse, the highest ranking official in the Colorado Senate, faced the same fate in the 11th District, though by a smaller margin, at 51/49. Bernie Herpin, also a Republican, was elected to fill the reminder of the term.


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