Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It’s Not Time to Panic Yet

“It’s not time to panic yet,” said researcher Billy Barr after measuring snowfall, water equivalency and daily temperatures in Crested Butte. The area is facing the worst winter ever recorded for lack of snow.

Recognizing the state’s vulnerability, Governor John Hickenlooper in his final State of the State speech highlighted the state’s unmet water needs. Steady population growth and a possible looming drought have created a water gap that can only be met with strong conservation measures and new projects. The state has identified $3 billion in needs, and Hickenlooper called for funding.

On January 25, he will review his water legacy and describe his recommendations for next steps with the state’s water leadership. The forum, which I will moderate, includes questions from the leaders.

Colorado Water Congress 2018
Annual Convention

Thursday Luncheon
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
January 25, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper


State of the State Speech, January 11, 2018
This includes protecting our water for agriculture. If we don’t implement our water plan, rural agricultural communities will be hit first and hardest. We live in a state of open markets. They can never afford to match what front range homeowners pay for domestic water. Having a sustainable source of food – no matter what happens around the world – is an essential foundation for the future of our state. We’re one of the great food exporting states and that’s a resource we should continue to invest in, rather than put at risk.
The Colorado Water Plan provides a framework, but doesn’t include all the funding for the last billion dollars over the next thirty years, we need the support of the General Assembly.
See Colorado Politics: Hickenlooper’s final State of the State reminds lawmakers about water plan

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Crisis of Democracy – DU’s Engaging Ideas Series

Democracy is being challenged. Some weak and new democracies are becoming less democratic and more authoritarian. Even established democracies are facing challenges from rising populist parties and politicians that disdain democratic values and procedures.

The University of Denver has begun a video series called Engaging Ideas hosted by former Dean and Provost, Jim Griesemer, where faculty present their research and ideas to further public dialogue on real world issues.

My segment, “Democracy on the Defense,” presents material used at international forums, in DU classes, and in front of Colorado audiences on democratic trends in the U.S. and worldwide. To view the interview directly, click here.

Colorado Politics: A New Congressional Seat for Colorado

Colorado Politics published my latest analysis of Colorado’s prospects for a new congressional seat after the 2020 census. The decision as to where to place the seat will begin as soon as the reappointment is announced, probably in late 2020. The next governor and likely the new legislature will be involved. More reason for Colorado’s November election to be closely fought.

CIRULI: a new congressional seat for Colorado in 2020?

Colorado’s political parties will be fully engaged in the 2018 election, and not least among its issues of concern is the possibility that Colorado could get another congressional seat. As of now, congressional redistricting is directed by the governor and legislature, and control of both is at stake.

Distribution of 435 congressional districts is governed by the 2020 census count, which is historically drawn on April 1 in decennial years. In 2020, that will be in the middle of undoubtedly raucous presidential primaries in which the census may be an issue. The latest census estimates indicate a congressional district needs about 750,000 residents, up from 710,000 in 2010. Colorado last picked up a seat in 2000, which became the 7th district in the northwest metro area suburbs. Its location was court determined after the legislature and governor gridlocked over the map. Read more…

Friday, January 12, 2018

Colorado Democrats Start 2018 Ahead, But Face Risks

Colorado has slipped to the left during the last decade, and a couple of recent polls confirm Democrats start the year in the lead for the governor’s race.

Both polls by respected Democratic firms assume Tom Tancredo is the Republican nominee. As of now, he has the highest name identification and firmest base of voters. But, Tancredo is also controversial within the Republican Party and highly polarizing to the overall electorate. It is very early, with most Republicans candidates still in fundraising and grassroots mode. But for purposes of polling, Tancredo’s two previous races for governor and his Trump/Bannon-like position on immigration makes him a reasonable stand in for the Republican frontrunner. The party doesn’t lack potential serious gubernatorial nominees, including State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Democrats also have a frontrunner who is only slightly less controversial than Tancredo. Jared Polis, the liberal libertarian Boulder congressperson, who has spent most of his political career promoting himself from outside the party and aggravating the Democratic establishment, has the highest profile and most money (his own) in the race. The Democratic field also has several competitors with sufficient name identification to be tested in a poll. Considered the most competitive is former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former State Senator Mike Johnston and current Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne. Tancredo loses to the Democratic field in the PPP poll from 8 to 4 points.

In his 8-point loss to Polis, Tancredo gets 71 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of unaffiliated.

The poll has a Democratic lean, with 36 percent identifying as Democrats and 30 percent as Republicans. Registration is more likely 31 percent for each party, and off-year turnout has been slightly more Republican historically. But Democrats have been pulling even in Colorado, and anti-Trump enthusiasm may have them more likely to vote.

It’s very early, but probably the strongest Democratic candidate today is Kennedy, who is the best regarded among Democrats (76%) with considerably less baggage than Polis. Outside of self-funding Polis, Johnston is the best fundraiser. The Democratic danger is that primary voters and liberal interest groups will nominate a candidate with a platform of unworkable and unaffordable proposals. With the exception of Boulder liberal Rollie Heath (2002), the party has nominated candidates with positions that are more reflective of Colorado’s pragmatic center than the national party’s approach.

If the Democratic Party veers too far left and Tancredo is the Republican nominee, expect a serious independent candidate for governor.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bruce Benson Hits Ten-Year Mark at CU

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson is approaching his ten-year mark as president of CU. Benson hasn’t slowed down. He tweets with 300,000 plus followers, has a regular newsletter and great Christmas card, and continues his prodigious fundraising.

He started the job March 10, 2008. Does he want to do another five years or is he ready for his next project?

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson (R) and
 Financial Chief Todd Saliman at CU Systems Services office,
 Denver, Feb. 27, 2017 | Mark Leffingwell/Boulder Daily Camera

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mexico’s July 1 Presidential Election Will Feature Corruption and Dealing with USA as Major Topics

The ruling party is in a battle to hold power. President Enrique Peña Nieto, after a difficult five years, is working to pass along the presidency to his party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). After monopoly political power in Mexico for most of the 20th century, they lost control to the center-right PAN in 2000. They returned to the presidency in 2012 with Nieto and don’t want to lose it again.

PRI is fielding candidates to see who is strongest against expected frontrunner, former socialist mayor of Mexico City Andrés Manuel López Obrador. PRI Finance Minister José Antonio Meade is the current preferred candidate. In a late November poll, he was only 5 points behind López Obrador, 28.7 percent to 23.2 percent (GCE).

Except for López Obrador who has near universal name identification, most of the field is unknown to voters. Barely a third of voters could identify Meade. López Obrador has run twice before for president, getting close in 2006 and refusing to concede. He was labeled the Hugo Chávez of Mexico, but is currently running a more moderate-sounding campaign focused on corruption and Mexico’s self-sufficiency. Like Donald Trump, he’s not a fan of NAFTA.

Early polls show him ahead of a multi-candidate field (6 to 10 candidates offered) by 5 to 15 percentage points in a first past the post no run-off system. Nieto won with 38 percent in 2012. López Obrador has indicated he might add a socially conservative party to his coalition in a quest for a plurality. He is likely at least 5 to 10 points short of the 35 to 40 percent needed to win.

Independents will be allowed to run in the July 1 election for the first time. They are entering the race, including former First Lady Margarita Zavala (PAN President Felipe Calderón’s wife) and Nuevo León Governor Jaime Rodríguez.

PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) of current President Enrique Peña Nieto will hold a convention in March. The major parties must offer their candidates by March. PAN (National Action Party) and PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) are considering a coalition and options for candidates. Candidates could be Ricardo Anaya Cortés, former PAN leader. Morena (National Regeneration Movement) was created by López Obrador. He has produced a 400-page manifesto to fight corruption and run his government.

Polling in Mexico:
El Universal, 1000, Nov. 10-17, 2017, ±3.53 error
El Financiero, 1004, Nov. 11-16, 2017, ±3.1 error
GCE, 600, Nov. 28, 2017
Parametria, 800, Dec. 14-17, 2017, ±3.5 error

Trump in Colorado – Playing His Base and Losing Ground

Donald Trump won the presidency with 46 percent of the popular vote to Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent. His national end-of-year approval was 39 percent in RealClearPolitics, 7 percent below his vote. Similarly, in Colorado, Trump is 7 points down. He has a 36 percent approval after losing the state with 43 percent in 2016 against Clinton. He has contracted his election support down 7 points to a base of about one-third to two-fifths of the electorate both nationally and in Colorado – a likely losing position in the upcoming election. (Public Policy poll, 770 auto dial/online, Dec. 4-5, 2017)

His relentless catering to and communication with his “base” has, as expected, narrowed his support, not widened it. Like his national slide in approval, Coloradans’ judgement of Trump’s first year has been poor. Unless Trump changes strategies, he is likely to take down the Republican Party gubernatorial nominee and other candidates in Colorado’s 2018 races.

Colorado is going to be both a battlefield and a harbinger of the 2018 election. Trump’s national decline is mirrored in the state at the moment the governorship is open, two of the state’s constitutional offices – treasurer and attorney general – and control of the state legislature in play.

The spread between approval and disapproval among Trump and Clinton voters and Republicans and Democrats demonstrate the challenges Republicans face if Trump’s approval remains mired below 40 percent during 2018.

An examination of the demographics of Trump’s Colorado approval (see chart below) shows his weakness within his party and among demographic groups that favored him in the 2016 election. The poll shows that passion among Democrats (approved difference among pro-Trump voters – 70% vs. pro-Clinton voters – 86%). Most ominously, it indicates that independent voters, who often swing elections, are currently in the disapproving camp.