Friday, February 23, 2018

March for Our Lives; Will Florida Make a Difference?

Will the mass shooting in Florida change the politics of gun control? It may, but the track record is very mixed. After the elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, no gun legislation passed the U.S. Senate. Colorado, however, passed gun control laws in 2013, and became a test case of the proposition: Can gun control start at the local level and go national? The answer turned out to be no.

Democrats, having taken over both houses of the Colorado legislature and controlling the governorship, rapidly passed a background check and limit on magazines in the 2013 legislative session. But, gun supporters, aided by the National Rifle Association, struck back by instigating two recall special elections against senior Democratic state senators, and they won. The recalls had a chilling effect on gun control legislation, not only in Colorado, but throughout the country.

National and local polling shows the public is mostly favorably disposed toward a number of specific gun control measures, even while they support the Second Amendment. A recent Colorado poll by CU shows a majority of the public favors increased gun control by 59 percent to 37 percent, but that there are significant partisan differences.

National surveys that ask if the public supports or opposes stricter gun laws often record a divided response, with a modest majority favoring stricter laws (CNN, stricter laws 52%, Oct. 15, 2017; Gallup 60%, Oct. 11, 2017; Quinnipiac 59%, Dec. 18, 2017). However, when specific laws are proposed, support can reach more than 9 out of 10 people, for example, 95 percent support background checks for all gun buyers (Quinnipiac, Dec. 18-20, 2017.

Democrats and Republicans Split on Sympathy for Israel

Although Israel still receives considerable sympathy from Americans in its dispute with Palestinians (46% for Israel, 16% for Palestine), there is now a significant partisan gap in sympathy, with a 52-point difference between Republicans’ (79%) sympathy for Israel compared to Democrats’ (27%).

The gap began in earnest toward the end of President George W. Bush’s second term. Republicans had been consistently more supportive of Israel than Democrats since the start of the Pew Research measurement in the late 1970s. But, sympathy jumped from the 50 percent level to the 70s after 2006, especially among conservative Republicans. Support for Israel among Democrats, on the other hand, while somewhat lower, remained steady until the 2014 period, then it dropped 15 points to the current 27 percent.

The two shifts in sympathy are an example of domestic politics significantly affecting the public’s foreign policy viewpoint. Evangelical Republicans became increasingly committed to Israel’s security as the site of the biblical story during the Bush presidency. Israeli politics became much more conservative under Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli government hostility toward the Obama administration intensified based on settlement policies and the Iran agreement. Republican political leaders welcomed Netanyahu to speak to Congress on his opposition to the Iran government without the Obama administration’s involvement in May 2015.

The Trump administration has pledged its close support for Israel’s position in negotiations with Palestinians and announced it’s moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a controversial position avoided by previous American presidents.

The new alignments are creating stress among American Jews who support Israel, but are domestic liberals and Democrats. Israel may find a much more conflicted and less supportive U.S. government when the Democrats regain control in D.C.

American Jews (7 million, depending on definition, voted 70 percent for Hillary Clinton.

See Pew Report: Republicans and Democrats grow even further apart in views of Israel, Palestinians

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cultural Tax Error Corrected

It required a failed special session and involved much partisan wrangling, but a correction to a legislative error concerning collecting retail marijuana taxes passed easily in the first six weeks of the 2018 legislative session. Sponsors Republican Senator Bob Gardner and Democratic Representative KC Becker helped design and pass the legislation. Lt. Governor Donna Lynn signed the bill. Thank you Donna.

Considerable effort was expended by the lobby teams representing the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), RTD and the independent group, Citizens for Arts to Zoo that supports the SCFD. Fortunately, by staying engaged in the legislative correction, culture support retrieved an estimated $9 million for the SCFD and its programs during the life of the 2016 extension.

Additional good news came this week with the report of the 2017 sales tax revenue. The year’s final sales tax revenue shows $59.8 collected for distribution, a 5.7 percent increase over 2016. Over the next 12 years, upward of $1 billion (at a 3.7% increase) will be collected and distributed for the benefit of the citizens and visitors of the SCFD region. What a gift for our cultural quality of life.

Read:
Bill to resolve pot tax error heads to Hickenlooper’s desk
Fix to marijuana taxes for special districts headed to Colorado governor

Unaffiliated Voters May Be Deciders in June 26 Primary

Due to Proposition 108, passed in the November 2016 general election, unaffiliated voters will receive the mail-back primary ballot for both parties and can select a primary they are most interested in and mail it back. (They can only vote in for one party primary to be counted.)

Colorado Politics Ernest Luning describes the potential impact 1.1 million unaffiliated voters could have on the crowded June 26 primaries for both parties. Given the crowded ballots for both parties for governor, a candidate could win with 30 to 35 percent of the vote, meaning a few thousand unaffiliated voters could be decisive.

I pointed out many unaffiliated voters have partisan feelings and considerable passion that can be activated by a particular candidate or campaign.

“The unaffiliated voter is not necessarily a moderate — in many cases it’s more liberal or more conservative than even the typical partisan,” Ciruli says. And while they might not belong to a party, there’s little doubt where their sympathies lie. “There won’t be a whole lot of people choosing between the two.”

In other states that hold open primaries, he noted, unaffiliated voters often amp things up rather than moderate the outcome.

“When they have been involved, it’s been sending a message or voting for a celebrity type of politician — a Bernie Sanders, a Donald Trump fit that category and attracted them,” Ciruli said.

After former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo’s departure from the GOP gubernatorial primary last week, Ciruli added, Colorado’s primary might not have that kind of choice on either ballot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Colorado Politics: Tancredo Hits the Paywall – and Shakes Up Both Parties

Both parties have too many candidates for governor. The March 6 caucuses should begin the winnowing process. Also, a number of candidates who have more money than followers in the grassroots party are taking the petition route, which are due to be turned in by March 20. 

Colorado Politics is intensifying its coverage of the 2018 election. In an article published on Ash Wednesday (St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14), I review Tom Tancredo’s withdrawal and how it affects both parties.

Tancredo hits the paywall – and shakes up both parties
Once again, the Republican establishment said “no” and Tom Tancredo surrendered to the reality of having no source of funding for his third campaign for governor. Tancredo’s decision to run always lacked believability beyond a primary challenge. It appeared mostly as a revenge tour for being denied the gubernatorial nomination in 2014.

But, his withdrawal not only shakes up the Republican race, it also rearranges the Democratic line-up. Jared Polis, the frontrunner, is seen by many Democrats as a vulnerable statewide candidate. The initial plausibility of his statewide election was mostly a product of Tancredo’s dramatic misalignment with the Colorado electorate of 2018. Read more…

DU Panel Looks at Who Has the Money in Governor’s Race

The January financial filings made clear to Tom Tancredo – he’s out. The latest campaign filings provide a wealth of information as to who should be able to get to the June 26 primaries and who else may drop out.

On February 22, a DU panel of experts will debate the frontrunners and their chances. Money counts in politics, and Republican Dick Wadhams and Democrat Steve Welchert will analyze the race with Tom Tancredo out, a still full field of candidates and $13 million already raised. They will be joined by lobbyists Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf and former Denver Post editorial editor, Vincent Carroll.

The panel will be moderated by Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. The panel begins at 4:00 pm, Thursday, February 22. The panelists:
  • Dick Wadhams – Republican political campaign manager and senior staff with elected officials from Senator Bill Armstrong to Governor Bill Owens, including a stint as State Republican Chair
  • Steve Welchert – Democratic consultant for candidates, such as Mayor Federico Peña and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. He has worked on numerous ballot issue campaigns.
  • Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf – Leading lobbyists with the firm Colorado Legislative Services
  • Vincent Carroll – Former political editorial director of the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post
Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization
4-6 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Reception: 6-7 pm
Korbel School at DU
Ground Floor, Room Sie 1150*
Ben Cherrington Hall (old building)
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO
*please note room change

RSVP to: Jane Bucher-McCoy at jane.bucher-mccoy@du.edu or 303.871.2882

Panel is cosponsored by Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and Institute for Public Policy Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Is Colorado Now a Blue State? DU Panel Describes the Possibilities and Results.

Colorado is in a major political transition with an open seat for governor and the State Senate held by the opposing party by only one seat.

A Democratic governor with both houses of the legislature under Democratic control could revive the 2013 lurch to the left. On the other hand, a Republican governor with even one house of the legislature could move the state to the right.

Lobbyists and political observes, Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf, will describe the key legislative races, this year’s legislative action, and what a new governor and legislature portends for 2019. They will be joined with Republican analyst Dick Wadhams and Democrat Steve Welchert. Providing the media overview will be Vincent Carroll, former editorial editor of the Denver Post.
  • Dick Wadhams – Republican political campaign manager and senior staff with elected officials from Senator Bill Armstrong to Governor Bill Owens, including a stint as State Republican Chair
  • Steve Welchert – Democratic consultant for candidates, such as Mayor Federico Peña and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. He has worked on numerous ballot issue campaigns.
  • Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf – Leading lobbyists with the firm Colorado Legislative Services
  • Vincent Carroll – Former political editorial director of the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post
Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, will moderate the panel.

Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization
4-6 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Reception: 6-7 pm
Korbel School at DU
Sié Complex,  Room 1150
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO

RSVP to: Jane Bucher-McCoy at jane.bucher-mccoy@du.edu or 303.871.2882

Panel is cosponsored by Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and Institute for Public Policy Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.