Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pelosi: Stay or Go?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news
conference on Capitol Hill, Nov. 7, 2018 | J. Scott Applewhite/AP
After advocating that Nancy Pelosi should retire at the beginning of each new Congress since her loss of the Speakership in 2010, I’ve just been quoted suggesting that now is a moment her experience and gravitas is needed by the party.

Democrats have new power and a mandate from the public to rein in the administration, but how that is done will require great skill. A gaggle of House Committees, all launching investigations with no accompanying legislative strategy, will simply hand President Trump a new image to label Democrats a mob damaging the country and economy. The large freshman class has many liberals anxious to take on the administration and fulfill some of their more controversial constituencies’ desires. The House will be in need of discipline.

As I said to Jeff Barker in the Baltimore Sun after the election:

Among House Democrats, Pelosi “has the arguments of raising money and knowing the system,” Ciruli said. While a faction of the party is calling for new leadership, Pelosi might be appreciated for her ability “to rein in an incredibly tough president without making him look sympathetic,” he said.

Managing a House of 435 members and a caucus of 230 Democrats is very serious work. Pelosi backed up President Obama for six years as Minority leader and took on Trump for two. For all her image baggage, she’s ready.

However, Gallup reports Democrats are ready for a change. By 56 percent to 39 percent, Democrats say it’s time to replace Pelosi. A number of newly elected Democratic congresspersons pledged in their campaigns to not support her for Speaker. A few senior Democrats, like Colorado’s Ed Perlmutter, are trying to organize a challenge. And, of course, Pelosi is a foil for nearly every Republican campaign.

Most likely, Democrats will bring some new faces into leadership. It’s also possible, like John Boehner, she may step down before the next election cycle in 2020, but for now, Democrats should be cautious in this selection.

9NEWS Called Brauchler at 11:00 pm Tuesday

There were few surprises in an election that was mostly called by 8:30 pm Election Night. When Secretary of State Wayne Williams began the night behind, it was the first indicator that the surge of new midterm voters was sending a message, not sorting through the qualifications of candidates.

The only race that remained close, although still with the Democrat ahead, was for Attorney General. At 11:00 pm, as the 9NEWS election team reviewed the night’s show, a voter refresh from the Secretary of State website showed the race separating by another 10,000 votes (George Brauchler was more than 40,000 behind), and  knowing that Denver and Boulder were still counting ballots and that Brauchler lost his home county, I called the race. Indeed, final votes trended Democratic, and he lost by 148,000.

Phil Weiser immediately announced his victory. Brauchler held out hope, but conceded Wednesday morning. Weiser had a narrow win in his primary, which I called for 9NEWS. He picked a good year and is a lucky politician.

Colorado attorney general Democrat candidate Phil Weiser and his wife, Dr. Heidi
Wald, take the stage after his win during the Democratic watch party in downtown Denver, Nov. 6, 2018 | AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post
Colorado attorney general Republican candidate George Brauchler at the
Colorado GOP watch party, Nov. 6, 2018 | Jesse Paul/The Colorado Sun

Read:
The Buzz: How Phil Weiser and the AG race was called
Colorado Politics: Election 2018: Democrats win all statewide offices
9News: Democrat Phil Weiser has defeated George Brauchler to become Colorado’s next attorney general

Monday, November 12, 2018

Cory Gardner is Up and it Will Be Ugly

Cory Gardner is celebrating the Republican Senate victory, which, he, Mitch McConnell and President Trump deserve considerable credit for. But, as soon as one election is over, the next starts. And, in two years, it’s assumed Senator Gardner will have a very difficult re-election.

While Trump’s red meat for red states strategy was a success in selected states, it was a disaster in Colorado. Trump was Congressman Mike Coffman’s main handicap and his face was used by Democrats to sweep in their statewide candidates, win a host of new legislative seats and even devastate a number of Republican county officeholders.

In 2014, Gardner won with a near perfect campaign in a good Republican year against an incumbent Democrat. But his victory was only by two points, and Colorado is moving left, as demonstrated by the 2018 midterm results. He is already identified as one of the most vulnerable senate incumbents due to Hillary Clinton winning the state in 2016. The campaign will attract record expenditures and national attention. And, of course, Democrats will recruit their strongest challenger.

No doubt, Trump will help to see that Gardner doesn’t have a primary, but he will be a liability in the general election. Voter turnout will be higher than in the midterm and even more Millennials will be voting. Gardner will need Democrats to overreach and make other mistakes to even out the new Colorado playing field.

Senator Cory Gardner after a closed-door strategy session at the Capitol
in Washington D.C., Jan. 19, 2018 | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

City Club of Denver and “The New Politics of Colorado”

One week after one of the most anticipated political election events in recent American history, I will present to the City Club of Denver “The New Politics of Colorado.”

In this election, not only were the predictions offered with a significant degree of uncertainty, reflecting the closeness of final polls and the surprise 2016 results, but the passion and the rhetoric of our polarized politics framed the election as an existential decision as to the survival of American democracy.

And, of course, Colorado’s politics and government was at an inflection point with a major change in government officials at a moment when a flood of new voters, including a new generation, entered our electorate.

Join the November 13 City Club event. Register here

Monday, November 5, 2018

Germany is Losing its Center; the EU is Losing its Leader

Angela Merkel’s 13 years of leadership of the Federal Republic is coming to a rapid close. Her center party coalition of conservatives and socialists have lost votes to farther right and left extremists in two state elections in the last month. Merkel was forced to announce she wouldn’t stand for election to lead the Christian Democratic Union in December, a party she has led since 2000. She is hoping to hold onto the chancellorship to have time to groom a replacement. The only question now is who can replace her and lead the center-right coalition?

Her demise began quickly at the very moment global media declared her “Woman of the Year,” reflecting her long reign and leadership on EU issues, such as the Greek debt and Syrian refugees. It was Merkel’s border policy in 2015 that most contributed to the unraveling of her coalition.

It is the EU that may suffer the most due to her loss of power. At the moment, the EU is challenged by nationalist governments from Italy to Hungary and the withdrawal of Britain. Merkel’s prestige and Germany’s economic power are most needed. The Brexit process has drained Prime Minister Theresa May’s influence in Britain and Brussels, and France’s Emmanuel Macron barely registers a 30 percent approval due to a continued sluggish French economy and his domestic political missteps. Macron doesn’t lack ambition to lead, but his stark endorsement of the EU’s liberal model of “open borders, open markets and open societies” is unlikely to gain traction in Europe of 2019.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

We are Going to Miss Mattis

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appears slated to be replaced by President Trump. It has been predicted for several months as his influence appeared to wane with the arrival of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton. Trump signaled it during his October “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl. He bristled when it was stated Mattis explained the value of NATO. Trump aggressively asserted that he knew “more about it [NATO} than he does.” Trump applied one of his denigrating labels on to Mattis, calling him “sort of a Democrat,” an apparent reference to Mattis’ moderate approach and disagreement with Trump on a number of issues.

Mattis has been the alliance guy, which Trump definitely isn’t. As a lifelong military officer, he understands the value of friends in a fight. His most recent statements in the Persian Gulf (Manama, Bahrain) remind us why he will be missed.

In reference to the Khashoggi case, he reaffirmed the rule of law:

“Failure of any nation to adhere to international norms and the rule of law undermines regional stability at a time when it is needed most.”

He defended the Saudi and other alliances, but based them on trust and honesty:

“We must maintain our strong people-to-people partnership, knowing that with our respect must come transparency and trust…These two principles are vital for ensuring the continued collaboration we know is necessary for a safe, secure and prosperous Middle East.”

Mattis highlighted the importance of opposing Iran’s malevolent influence in the region and the fact Russia is not a substitute for America’s commitment. He argued for stability and unity over chaos and disruption. Not a preference always appreciated by the White House:

“We stand with our partners who favor stability over chaos, and we support unity of effort among our nations’ militaries in response to shared threats and challenges, for in such unity is the real power to set and to maintain peace.”

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in the Cabinet
 Room of the White House, March 8, 2018 | Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Win or Lose, Trump is Changing the Team

Rumors are rife in D.C. that at least a half dozen cabinet positions will change after the midterm. Most prominently on the departure list is Jeff Sessions, the endlessly disparaged Attorney General.

Changes are also coming to the national security and foreign policy team. Nikki Haley has already announced her departure, and Joseph Dunford, Chair of the Joint Chiefs, is about to leave the position due to the normal rotation.

President Trump appeared to confirm rumors that he had tired of Jim Mattis’ restraints on his many instincts. Trump’s favorite general, who he called “Mad Dog,” a name Mattis doesn’t approve, is now called behind-his-back, “moderate dog.” In Trump’s October "60 Minutes" interview, he labeled Mattis “probably a Democrat,” not a term of endearment in the White House. Mattis claims he’s not leaving, but…

Chief of Staff John Kelly’s deputy, Kirstjen Nielsen, who became Secretary of Homeland Security, has a thankless job, and indeed, Trump doesn’t thank her. She’s on the rumor list. Kelly, of course, always looks somewhat uncomfortable in his job.