Friday, April 20, 2018

Both Parties Head for Tough Primaries; Kennedy and Stapleton Secure Top of the Ballot

As readers of The Buzz already know, Cary Kennedy and Walker Stapleton are the frontrunners of their respective parties’ nomination ballots as the two parties head into tough and expensive primaries. Both parties will likely have four candidate fields once petition certification is completed by the Secretary of State.

Democratic Convention
At Saturday’s Democratic State Convention, former State Treasurer, Cary Kennedy, crushed Jared Polis for top position on the ballot (62% to 33%). As earlier straw polls had indicated, Polis barely made the ballot.

It is likely to be a four-person primary. Democrat Mike Johnston is already on the ballot by petition and has money, if not much of a base in the regular party. He will need unaffiliated voters. Donna Lynn is awaiting certification, but unlikely to be a factor.

Republican Convention
Although Walker Stapleton still doesn’t have the whole-hearted support of the Republican Party’s rank and file conventioneers (he does better in polls), he crushed his main rival, Cynthia Coffman, who failed to make the ballot. His 44 percent win over former Parker mayor, Greg Lopez, secures his position as top of the ballot and party frontrunner.

The Republican Convention was an embarrassing loss for Coffman. As The Buzz related, she attracted little support in caucus and county assembly straw polls. In fact, Stapleton regularly beat her. His shift to the state convention was her doom, which she recognized, launching a vicious, late, but forlorn attack.

A couple of non-participants in the Republican conventions will likely be players in the primary. Vic Mitchell has money to spend on TV and a good pollster. Doug Robinson will be another Stapleton critic, assuming they both make the ballot. Greg Lopez will not likely be a top finalist once money enters the race. His convention win demonstrates many party activists are still looking for that conservative outsider who will take on the system. All the better if the person is the member of a minority the party must get more of if it is to survive in Colorado.

Read The Buzz:
KOA: Walker Stapleton Drops Petitions and Goes to Convention – April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz
Kennedy and Stapleton Frontrunners in Early Race
9News: Will Unaffiliated Voters Affect the Governor’s Race?
Governing Magazine Lists Colorado’s Governor’s Race Competitive

AAPOR National Polling Conference Panel on Marijuana Legalization – May 15

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) will hold its national conference for the first time in its 71-year history in Denver this May. Its opening panel on the legalization of marijuana is co-sponsored with the University of Denver-based Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School. The panel for AAPOR members is open to the public and will be held May 15 at 5:00 pm at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

Marijuana legalization will be examined from the perspective of the interaction of public opinion and public policy. Beyond the extensive research of national trends, we now have opinion to study in several states at different stages of implementation with a variety of regulatory regimes.

Not only is public opinion analyses useful, but a variety of other metrics are available as acceptance and resistance within “legal” states continues with local votes on distribution and taxation. Also, there are growing numbers of studies, often using survey research about benefits and costs, including criminal activity, youth usage, health issues and driving.

Some topics for public opinion and marijuana panel are:
  • Current national status of public opinion on legalization of marijuana
    • Is national acceptance inevitable?
    • Which states are next to legalize? Which are not?
  • Change in opinion/political environment due to Attorney General Sessions’ position. Impact on legalization in more states.
    • How does it affect adoption of recreational use in legal states?
    • Impact of President Trump’s comments on enforcement
  • Colorado 5 years into legalization 
    • What is the geography of recreational/commercialization acceptance?
    • What are the economics of marijuana, tax benefits?
  • California one year in
    • Merge of medical and recreation
    • Conflicts between legal and illegal
Public Opinion and Legalization of Marijuana
May 15
5:00 pm
Reception Follows
Sheraton Denver Downtown
Doug Schwartz – Quinnipiac University Poll, director, moderator
David Metz – President of FM3 pollsters in California
Rick Ridder – Campaign manager, pollster (international), Colorado
Skyler McKinley – Former Deputy Director of Colorado Office of Marijuana Coordination, Colorado government affairs AAA
Floyd Ciruli – Director of Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Korbel School, DU, pollster

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Strengthening American Democracy

Floyd Ciruli speaking at WorldDenver
Before an audience of 150 at a WorldDenver event on the worldwide crises of democracy, the loudest applause came on the topic of defending American democracy.

I related a list of actions the next administration should enact with Congress. Most of the actions were political norms that historically didn’t need statutory rules – they were usually followed, but not today. Hopefully, both parties will see the benefit of ensuring that American democracy continues to function as designed and intended, namely with a constrained executive, within clear boundaries.

Norms, like precedence, are expectations. Codifying and strict enforcement of most of the items on the list – for example, disclosure of tax returns, enforcement of limits on emoluments, prohibition of nepotism, limits on pardons – didn’t appear necessary, but when they are disregarded by an executive and other restraints are failing, statutes are necessary.

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli at WorldDenver event

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Denver Press Club Hosts Panel on May 8 on Trauma of 1968 – Remembering Bobby Kennedy – Assassinated June 5, 1968

Robert Kennedy addresses a mostly black crowd
of 2,500 in Indianapolis, breaking the news of
Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination,
April 4, 1968 | Indianapolis Monthly
The Denver Press Club is hosting a presentation and panel on the turmoil and trauma of 1968 on the
year’s 50th anniversary. The year saw the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.

On April 4, after King was assassinated, Kennedy, campaigning in Indianapolis, spoke to a crowd of predominately African American supporters in what was later considered his politically bravest and best speech of his career. More than 100 cities saw riots after King’s death, but not Indianapolis.

See my blog of Bobby Kennedy’s speech on the night Dr. King died here.

1968: A Year of Turmoil and Transition
Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Tuesday, May 8
Social Hour – 5:30 pm
Panel and presentation – 6:30 pm

Mueller and Cohen: Political Danger and Existential Threat

It is said the White House believes that the Michael Cohen investigation is a much greater threat to the President than what Robert Mueller is likely to release as a final report. This belief is well-founded and reinforced by the news last week of the impeached president of South Korea being sentenced to 24 years in prison and former, very popular President of Brazil beginning a 12-year sentence, both for financial corruption.

Mueller’s finding related to the President could be violations of law and the Constitution that will be considered by Congress. The Cohen investigation could produce criminal indictments, including Donald Trump.

New polling from ABC News/Washington Post conducted by Langer Research Associates shows the American public has a different view. They are very supportive of the Mueller investigation of collusion, but less so on the hush money allegations; i.e., Stormy Daniels.

There is eleven percent less support for the hush money investigation than the Russian election interference. In terms of the Mueller investigation of collusion, even 43 percent of Republicans support it compared to 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans. But in another question, only 51 percent of the public believe Trump’s pattern of sexual misconduct is important vs. 46 percent who do not. However, there is a gender gap. Women are 15 percent more likely to judge both issues – the hush money investigation and the importance of the politics of sexual misconduct – higher.

See questions and poll here

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bobby Kennedy in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Robert Kennedy won the Indiana primary on May 7. It was an important victory in his 82-day presidential campaign. But its significance pales compared to his speech in Indianapolis to a campaign crowd of supporters in a primarily black neighborhood on the night of April 4 after Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. It is considered both his most significant speech and an act of political courage that probably saved the city from disruption that swept more than 100 cities the next two nights.

Robert Kennedy addresses a mostly black crowd
of 2,500 in Indianapolis, breaking the news of
Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination,
April 4, 1968 | Indianapolis Monthly
A few lines from a Washington Post report of Bobby’s remarks:
What unfolded during the next six minutes, according to historians and Kennedy biographers, is one of the most compelling and overlooked speeches in U.S. political history — the brother of an assassinated president announcing another devastating assassination two months before he’d be killed, too.
“I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world,” the 42-year-old senator said in his thick Boston accent, “and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.”
There were audible gasps.
“For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling,” Kennedy said. “I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”
One of Kennedy’s campaign staffers was John Lewis, who had already risked his life to defy segregation alongside King and would later become a congressman from Georgia. Lewis urged Kennedy not to cancel the speech.
“I thought Bobby Kennedy coming would have a cooling impact on the audience,” Lewis said in an interview. “He appealed to the hearts and the minds and souls of the people there — black and white.”
“He spoke in a prayerful, mournful fashion,” Lewis said.
King’s death, Kennedy said, left the black community with a choice about how to respond, whether to seek revenge.
“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization … black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another,” Kennedy said. “Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.”
“What we need in the United States,” he continued, “is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
A sense of grace washed over the crowd.
See Washington Post story: “That stain of bloodshed”; After King’s assassination, RFK calmed an angry crowd with an unforgettable speech

Hill and Ciruli Present Tour of the World Dictators and Hot Spots

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli present at WorldDenver
One hundred and fifty WorldDenver guests joined a presentation on April 10 by Ambassador Christopher Hill and professor and pollster Floyd Ciruli on the topic of: The New Authoritarianism: Can America Meet the Challenge? Americans, especially people interested in foreign policy, are extremely concerned about the state of democracy, including in the U.S.

One of the evening’s topics was that trade, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), not only supported the member countries’ economies, but aided the functioning of their democratic decision-making and collective security arrangements with the U.S. The TPP agreement was especially seen as a counter to China’s aggressive economic initiatives in Asia.

President Trump opposes multi-lateral agreements, and during the campaign, was especially critical of TPP. He withdrew the U.S. from the TPP negotiating process as his first executive order. Trump believes the pact hurt American workers and businesses. He prefers bilateral agreements and claims agreements with six are underway.

The eleven countries that were partnered in TPP have proceeded forward without the U.S. and have a signed agreement (less robust), waiting approval by their individual governments. A number of additional countries want to join, such as South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli at
WorldDenver presentation
But two days after our presentation, the President realized his trade war was costing him support among farm state interests and senators and ordered his new head of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, to examine a U.S. role in the TPP as an effort to promote American products. He also needs allies in Asia for his trade initiatives against China. Japan has especially been interested in America rejoining the agreement.

Dealing with the impact of trade agreements, especially with Asian economies on American jobs, is still to be addressed, but the benefit of allies is beginning to look especially important to the administration. Trade agreements not only benefit the economy, but diplomacy and national security.