Friday, March 16, 2018

Georgia: Is it NRA or Amazon?

It seems improbable, but Georgia state government’s punishment of its major industry, Delta Airlines, for cancelling NRA member discounts may be reverberating to Colorado’s benefit.

Atlanta Channel 11Alive, a Gannett sister station of Denver’s Channel 9KUSA, aired a news  segment from investigative reporter, Brendan Keefe, speculating that the Georgia politicians’ action could damage the state’s bid to win the Amazon headquarters. Atlanta is considered a frontrunner, but pro-gun culture reflected in the hostility toward Delta created a controversy that has local economic development advocates worried.

My comments for the segment were:
“It is definitely a factor,” Ciruli said. “I always had this image of Atlanta of being a very progressive city, and suddenly this interaction with the NRA, it both surprised me, particularly taking on a major corporation like that, but it also suggested that the political culture there is so rigid, so committed to its position, that it’s willing to take on an incredible economic asset like that, and also send a potential signal in terms of its competitive position with Amazon.”
Ciruli said corporate leadership is "incredibly sensitive to these boycotts" and their employees', customers' and shareholders' cultural attitudes.
"You get out on the edge of these issues – like guns, or gay rights, or race – you will get a backlash," Ciruli said. "And I think that’s what Georgia is dealing with right now is a backlash.”
Amazon is generally viewed as a progressive company, and its founder personally owns the Washington Post. So, imagine Jeff Bezos seeing this headline in his own paper – at the same time his company is considering Atlanta as its second home.
“He is probably more alert and more attentive than 95 percent of the corporate leadership of this country, and his editorial decisions are dramatically out of sync with the Georgia state legislature right now,” Ciruli said.

March 1968: The Political Hinge

President Lyndon B. Johnson announces
 he will not seek reelection,
March 31, 1968 | AP photo
Nineteen sixty-eight was the extraordinary year that saw the turning point in the Vietnam War’s escalation and the end of the Democrats’ eight years of control of the federal government. It concluded the rush of New Deal/Great Society programs and major civil rights legislation (final legislation signed by LBJ on April 11 – Fair Housing Act).

March was the pivot month. The American war effort was thrown on defense as the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive of January 30 framed the weeks leading up to the first test of the reelection of President Johnson. The New Hampshire primary was on March 12, and Senator Eugene McCarthy, who announced his challenge to Johnson in November 1967, was on the ballot. Although several anti-war liberals, such as Paul Newman, and groups, such as Americans for Democratic Action, supported him and he was a rock star on campuses, New Hampshire polls had him winning only 10 to 20 percent of the primary voters. McCarthy advocated an end to the Vietnam War by way of immediate withdrawal. Most establishment Democrats, big city party bosses and union leaders felt that was too radical and were reluctant to oppose an incumbent president.

Senator Eugene McCarthy, a candidate for
the presidential nomination of the Democratic
 Party, speaking at his New York headquarters
 on Jan. 1, 1968 | Lisl Steiner/Getty Images
But, McCarthy showed with a 42 percent New Hampshire vote that the party was already divided. Johnson barely won with 49 percent, less than half the Democrats. The result was a shockwave that hit Washington, which rapidly brought Bobby Kennedy out to announce his candidacy on March 16.

Johnson now saw the difficult struggle ahead and prepared a March 31 speech offering a bombing pause and efforts at negotiations. But he then ended the extraordinary month and his speech with the surprise announcement: “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

Robert F. Kennedy announces
his  candidacy for president,
March 16, 1968 | Magnum Photos
As April began, it was clear America had just entered a new political era, with major changes in policies and personalities on the horizon. It was also the beginning of more violence and trauma here at home.

Read The Buzz:
Walter Cronkite calls Vietnam a stalemate
The USS Carl Vinson visits Da Nang

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Xi: “Paramount” and “Permanent” Leader

The China Communist Party, which often titles Xi Jinping China’s “paramount” leader, amended its party constitution last fall and added his name and his thoughts on “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.” The nation’s People’s Congress just amended the national constitution with the same language (Xi Jinping thought) and made him the “permanent” leader. The term limits and collective leadership reforms of Deng Xiaoping have been ruled outdated to the circumstances and needs of the new global China.

Xi’s vision of an aggressive China with global aspirations now dominates all aspects of China.

Xi Wants to be Leader of the Unfree World
  • One person, one party rule. A party reinvigorated and expanded in reach. He believes it’s a model for others to follow.
  • Xi’s version of state-controlled economy and state industries with markets in specific areas, some but limited reform. Barrier to foreign entry and protectionist policies remain.
  • New technologies of surveillance and digital repression. Little civic space, narrow room to criticize, no ability to communicate to like-minded.
  • Marginalize, isolate and purge opponents, often in the name of corruption
  • Project on aggressive, intimidating regional foreign policy with carrots and sticks, such as Belt and Road and South China Sea Islands.
  • Claim to be ready for center stage of the world as a globalist, environmentalist advocate
  • Believes Western democracies are dispirited, divided, distracted and withdrawing
Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) with other
delegates at the opening of the first Plenary Session of the 13th National
People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People (GHOP) in Beijing,
March 5, 2018 | EPA-EFE

Another Day of Gun News

Mike Coffman is no doubt ready for the gun stories to move on. One of the country’s great news outlets, the Christian Science Monitor (now only online), did an article on guns and gun control related to suburban legislators. Reporter Amanda Paulson, not surprisingly, featured Colorado’s 6th District.

No one quoted doubts Coffman’s ability to survive, but they all reflect that this may be his toughest environment.

The spectacular loss in Pennsylvania’s 18 Congressional District reinforces what a burden national politics and President Trump is for Republican incumbents.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman | Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Olympics in Trouble Before Studies Done

Former Colorado Governor
Dick Lamm | Anthony Camera
Denver’s Olympic boosters start in a public relations deficit. The metro area’s spectacular growth has taken a toll on the region’s usual booster culture.

Opposition to a 2030 Olympics has brought Dick Lamm, leader of the defeated 1976 Olympics, out of retirement. He joins Generation X Brighton Boulevard developer, Kyle Zeppelin, and a host of activists who are ready to mount a campaign against the idea before the Olympic Exploratory Committee can even finish its studies on the basic feasibility of the concept. Tough environment for a high-profile development concept, even if it has modest and manageable impact.

Tillerson Out

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired by a Tweet on March 13, 2018. Although he made it one year from his confirmation (February 1), the firing was not communicated to him in advance. He thought he’d make it through 2018.

Tillerson never appeared comfortable with Trump, in terms of style, tone and basic outlook toward America’s foreign policy objectives. But, Tillerson never mastered Washington politics nor got comfortable at the agency.

The Buzz asked, “Tillerson Gone?” on December 5 during the last wave of speculation about his replacement (Pompeo). Trump said the main reason for firing Tillerson was that they did not see eye-to-eye on issues like the Iran agreement. There were, in fact, a host of issues Tillerson had a different slant on.

America First
Tillerson’s challenge. The administration is:
  • Hostile to alliances and multilateral agreements, TPP
  • Skeptical of NATO, it’s a burden
  • Anti-Iranian Agreement
  • Moving embassy to Jerusalem
  • Anti-climate agreement
  • Hostile toward NAFTA, Mexico
  • Hostile toward Russian sanctions
  • Pro-Saudi Arabia vs. Qatar
  • Removing 2,000 employees

Plunkett Defense of Post Coverage

Editorial Page editor of the Denver Post, Chuck Plunkett, made a defense on Sunday of Post coverage of accusations that Mayor Michael Hancock used an escort service in 2011. The story surfaced on June 2, 2011, days before Hancock’s runoff election with Chris Romer. He ended the column rather ambivalently, with no certainty that the Post got it right, only an explanation it tried its best. Plunkett’s explanation of the Post’s decision is relevant as Mayor Hancock is entangled in another sex-related scandal.

Mayor Michael Hancock apologizes for his inappropriate text messages
in a video statement, March 5, 2018 | Colorado Politics/YouTube screen grab

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

9News: Democratic Caucus Shakes Out Governor’s Race

In an interview with Brandon Rittiman, Floyd Ciruli, 9News political analyst, cited several changes that shook out of Cary Kennedy’s big win (50%) at the Democratic caucus, March 6.
  • Jared Polis will be on the ballot and spend money, but party regulars and the 2018 activists passed him over. Setback for frontrunner image (32%).
  • Mike Johnston had some good reviews for early petitions and presentations, but may lack a base in the party (9%). Kennedy has the teachers that have activists in every county and most precincts.
  • Noel Ginsberg went caucus route (2%). He’s done.
  • Donna Lynn stayed out of caucus. March 20 is the last day for petitions. She looks like a very, very longshot.
9News: Kennedy claims frontrunner status in caucus

European Elections: Germany and Italy, Fragmentation and a Surging Right

Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel required nearly six months from September 24, 2017 to March 3, 2018 to form a government. Merkel was 109 votes short of a majority in the Bundestag after a weak September election result and forced to renegotiate a partnership with the also diminished Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The partnership brought many new faces forward in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, her associate party, Christian Social Union (Bavarian wing) and the SPD. This will no doubt be Merkel’s last term. The stability of the new coalition remains to be seen, but polls made clear the result of the fragmentation of the last election has empowered a new right party, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD). It is now the largest opposition force, equal in support to the SPD.

The Italian election of March 4 has also left a fragmented landscape with an empowered populist party, Five Star Movement, gaining the most votes as a single party (33%). It is led by 31-year-old Luigi De Maio. A consortium of center-right to far-right parties received the most total votes (36%) (Forza Italia, Northern League, Brothers of Italy, Us with Italy). One surprise was Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia with only 14 percent of the vote, making it the junior partner with the League (18%) led be Matteo Salvini, a more anti-immigrant, anti-EU leader. Both the populist and right wing parties are more pro-Russian than the Italian establishment parties.

The center-left ruling party’s support collapsed to 19 percent. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will not be a part of the new government.

Hence, the forces of fragmentation and collapse of center parties continues. Although the European establishment bought some time in Germany, Italy will now be a new southern European challenge for the EU.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Coffman Stands Firm on the NRA

Politicians must deal with campaign contributions that are sometimes controversial. The NRA regularly becomes a political target after school shootings and even more so after the school tragedy in Florida. A recent Aurora Sentinel article by Kara Mason explores the issue in the 6th Congressional District, one of the most contested in the country.

Mike Coffman is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment and the NRA. He is the Colorado congressional recipient of the largest amount of NRA political action money and he generally supports their agenda.

Under criticism from Democrats and his opponent, Jason Crow, Coffman has remained loyal to the NRA, kept the contributions, but offered some modest variations on NRA steadfast opposition to nearly all federal legislation making a slippery slope argument.

I pointed out that there is also a slippery slope in giving back money, which opponents will exploit. In addition, NRA members who are very committed and politically active would take a hostile view of any congressional “friend” turning on them.

This is a Weird Picture

The “Rocket man” who promised to kill millions with nuclear weapons to maintain his dynasty and dictatorship is now the gracious host, family in tow, for a formal dinner.

Gathered around Kim Jong-un is his wife Ri Sol-ju and Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, fresh from a diplomatic mission at the South Korean Olympics. Partially due to domestic political conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent his top spy, Suh Hoon, and South Korea’s H.R. McMaster, Chung Eui-yong. Moon, as a new president from the Korean left, is especially sensitive to appearing weak as he pursues his preference for negotiations and calmer relations with the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center right) sits with a visiting South Korean
 delegation in Pyongyang and other high-level North Koreans,  March 5, 2018 | KCNA
Clearly, North Korea has decided on a meeting and negotiation track. His invitation to President Trump is bold. His immediate goal is sanction relief, and he believes appearing reasonable will help. There have been long periods of negotiations before. The likelihood he will give up his nuclear weapons for “security guarantees” still seems implausible.

But, it’s his (and his family’s) long-term goal that is a deal killer – U.S. gone from the peninsula and the Koreas united under his direct rule, or at least like the Russian theory of the Ukraine – within his share of influence. Would China prefer that outcome too?

Friday, March 9, 2018

KOA Interview: Kennedy Sweeps the Caucuses

Last Tuesday night, party regulars and candidate supporters began one of the selection procedures to gain access to the June gubernatorial primary. In a KOA interview Wednesday with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz, it was clear Cary Kennedy had won the Democratic caucus with 50 percent of the support as recorded by the caucus preference poll.
Cary Kennedy | Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics

About 23,000 caucus attendees gave Kennedy a strong push, and held Jared Polis, which polls have said was the frontrunner, to only 33 percent. Among larger counties, Polis only carried Larimer and Adams. He lost his home county of Boulder. She also put the brakes on Mike Johnston’s momentum. His weak 9 percent leaves him in danger of not making the 10 percent minimum to get on the ballot.

Kennedy received about 11,000 votes in the preference poll. She will need to scale that up to reach a major share of the 300,000 or more Democrats who usually turn out for the primary, this year on June 26.

Republicans don’t have a preference poll and generally have very little attendance. Cynthia Coffman is completely dependent on the caucus-assembly path. Her support, along with the host of other Republican candidates, will be clearer at the county assemblies later in March (start on March 16). Anecdotal evidence indicates Walker Stapleton had support. A recent Republican poll showed Walker Stapleton as the frontrunner. He’s already turned in his petitions.

The caucus system is a relic of a smaller, more deliberative party. More than half the candidates are using the petition system. The few thousand attendees are less than 2 percent of the 2 million plus registered party members.

Read The Buzz:
KOA Interview: Mike Johnston Has a Chance
Stapleton Ahead in First Poll

Shirley Amore: One of Denver’s Great Civic Leaders

Shirley Amore | Photo: Denver Public Library
Shirley Amore became the Denver City Librarian in 2006, and in her first year, positioned the Library to share in the 2007 half a billion dollar Denver bond election. She wasted no time and mastered Denver politics in a few months, not the usual years. The Library won with 60 percent voter support for a $56 million bond for branch libraries and new libraries at Stapleton, Green Valley Ranch and West Denver. It was part of the $550 million Better Denver bond package. The Library also received $69 million in the 2017 city bond package.

Amore also got the Library through the great recession, reducing hours, but always lobbying for more funding, which was provided in the 2013 TABOR Override. Afterwards, she was so pleased that all branches were able to be open a minimum of 48 hours per week.

Shirley retired in 2015 and continued to support the library and its millions of users.

Thank you, Shirley.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Janice Bradish Munoz

A PCH spirit leader of the class of ‘64, Janice Bradish Munoz passed away suddenly. I only saw Janice in recent years at our periodic reunions, but I know that she was one of the key organizers and, of course, the most enthusiastic and spirited at our masses, parties and dinners.

If you look at an old Shamrock yearbook, her reference in the index was among the longest. She volunteered for most everything. She helped make those four years much more fun for all of us. I remember she was one of our officers in our freshman and senior years, but luckily wasn’t during the infamous Junior Class Float experience. She kept an upbeat view throughout our years and travels.

Mostly, I remember Janice’s smile and friendly hello.

We, of course, will miss her, but we are comforted by our belief that all that enthusiasm is now with the angels and saints.

Rest in Peace Janice.

Your classmate,

Walter Cronkite Calls Vietnam a Stalemate

Walter Cronkite | Photo: TV Guide
Nineteen sixty-eight was a year of war, protest and national trauma. The bloodiest year of the
Vietnam War was fifty years ago. There were 16,899 U.S. military casualties out of a total 58,220 deaths. More than 536,000 troops were in country, also the war’s largest troop commitment.

Walter Cronkite’s February 27, 1968 CBS Evening News broadcast report was one of the key media moments in the war’s history, with powerful political effect. After a tour of Vietnam in February 1968, shortly after the launch of Tet Offensive, Walter Cronkite offered his famous editorial report in which he labeled Vietnam a “stalemate” and that the only solution was a negotiated end.

The last paragraph of his commentary summed up a sense of where informed opinion in the country was:
To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
President Johnson reportedly said: “If I have lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” The rest of the month was equally troubling for Johnson, and on March 31, he withdrew from re-election.

Stapleton Ahead in First Poll

A recent poll of Republicans positions Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor. The auto-dial poll was of 647 likely Republican primary voters.

Stapleton receives more than a quarter of the votes and has the second highest name identification after second-place finisher, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton |
Photo Colorado Independent
The dominant issue reported by the poll was enforcing federal immigration laws, ranked most important by 43 percent of Republicans, with roads and transportation in a distant second-place at 13 percent. No doubt the reason why, Stapleton made opposition to sanctuary cities (i.e., Denver Aurora, Boulder) his top issue.

Thirty-nine percent of voters didn’t select a candidate. Over half the electorate has either not heard of any of the candidates or just has no opinion of them when asked to rate their favorability or unfavorability.

Stapleton has the highest name identification (45%) and favorability (33%). Coffman has more unfavorable opinion (21%) than favorable (20% and nearly twice as much unfavorable opinion (21%) as Stapleton (13%).

Vic Mitchell and Doug Robinson have no name identification and are, as of February, not factors in the race.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Trump: Base, But No Majority

After 400 days in office, Donald Trump still operates as if he is running a reality TV show. A 35 percent share of a national audience is huge. But, it is insufficient to command real political respect. And, it is likely to contribute to Republicans losing control of the House of Representatives. Like most recent surveys of his 35 percent approval rating (CNN poll), he has 80 percent of Republicans, few Democrats (5%) and approval from independent voters equal to the overall average (35%).

Also representative of most national samples, Republicans tend to be about a quarter of the sample, Democrats about 10 points higher and the rest claiming to be independents.

When you apply simple analysis to the distribution, it is clear the “base” is insufficient for building and retaining political power. In fact, the endless effort to reinforce the base is counterproductive; it drives off Democrats and independents.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state
and local officials on school safety in the White House,
Feb. 22, 2018 | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

It is not impossible for Trump to improve his position with Democrats and independents. His approval of the handling of the economy is 51 percent in a new Gallup poll. It includes the approval of 28 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of independents. Although only a slight majority, it is a significant improvement.

A major part of Trump’s problem is that his style and tone is not just distracting from the economic message, but is exhausting many swing voters. People view White House rhetoric as helping cause national division and increased violence in society.

Friday, March 2, 2018

KOA Interview: Mike Johnston Has a Chance

KOA political coverage with anchors April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz just finished interviewing the crowded field of Colorado gubernatorial candidates. Their last interview was with Walker Stapleton, who, due to money and endorsements, is the Republican frontrunner. In my wrap-up interview, the last question April asked was: Did Mike Johnston have a chance against Jared Polis? My answer was yes!

Polis, of course, has an advantage as a five-term congressperson with unlimited money. But Johnston has enough funding to be competitive, a powerful organization that brought in his petition in record time and without using a professional firm, and he makes an effective case for his candidacy, as he did on KOA.

Former State Senator Mike Johnston | AP
Most Democrats are undecided and candidate performance in forums and debates will be important between now and the June primary. Also, when Tom Tancredo left the Republican race, Democrats got more serious about their nominee. A strong mainstream Republican could win. More pragmatic Democrats are concerned about candidate vulnerabilities, including Polis’s.

The winnowing process begins on March 6 for all the caucus candidates. Those that are using petitions (or claim to be doing both – Polis) have until March 20. At that point, a few of the more than 10 candidates will drop out or be marginalized. But, it is possible each party will have four or more candidates on their primary ballot, meaning that 30 to 35 percent could win the nomination.

As of now, the last day of February, The Buzz has the contest as Stapleton vs. Johnston.

New Congressional Seat May End Careers

Colorado may win a new congressional seat in 2021 after the census is completed. The metro area has received the lion’s share of the state’s growth since 2010.

Putting a substantial portion of a new seat in the metro area could disrupt the comfortable geography of the 1st Congressional District and convince Diana DeGette it is time to retire after 22 years (first elected 1996).

Mike Coffman’s hold on the 6th district, which regularly votes Democrat for federal and statewide offices but keeps him, may become impossible if Republicans and swing voters who know and have favored him are traded for Democrats and new voters who don’t. Up until now, only reapportionments appear to menace him.

Read The Buzz: Colorado Politics: A New Congressional Seat for Colorado

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cory Gardner Catches a Primary?

Although the panelists at the DU forum last Thursday thought Republican Senator Cory Gardner was one of the most talented politicians in recent Colorado history, they felt he had been damaged by being part of the Republican Senate leadership in 2017. The health care debacle especially hurt him with moderate Colorado voters who helped him in his successful defeat of incumbent Senator Mark Udall.

But his bigger problem may be the hard right in the Republican Party, many of whom believe he failed to repeal Obamacare and are hostile to what they consider “amnesty” on DACA. The party’s Trumpites especially believe Gardner is too close to the D.C. establishment and has offered too many reservations of Trump’s tone and tweets.

Sen. Cory Gardner with Sen. John Thune (L) and Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell in the background speaks to reporters
at the Capitol in Washington,  Jan. 9, 2018 | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Tancredo is Out. Who Are the Frontrunners for Governor? A Panel of Experts.
Sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research
Moderator: Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School; Panelists: Dick Wadhams – Republican campaign manager and former State Chair; Steve Welchert – Democratic campaign manager; Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf –Colorado lobbyists with Colorado Legislative Services; and Vincent Carroll – Former editorial page editor for Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. Thursday, Feb. 22

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

#NeverAgain: Is Gun Control an Issue Mike Coffman Can’t Finesse?

A new Washington Post-ABC news poll highlights that 77 percent of Americans believe Congress “is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings in this country.” The polls shows white suburban women are the most concerned about the issue. Republican congresspersons in swing districts are the most vulnerable to the passion that has erupted around the issue.

Republican Mike Coffman has won three re-elections in an Arapahoe County congressional district that increasingly votes Democrat for president and other statewide offices. He has shown considerable skill managing highly controversial issues that the national party takes pure partisan positions on, such as health care, DACA and tax reform. Coffman is now dealing with guns. A host of recent headlines have not been good:
  • “Greenwood Village Town Hall: Mike Coffman booed at as people demand action on guns” (Denver Post, 2-21-18)
  • “Rep. Mike Coffman is top recipient of NRA funds among CO delegation” (Colorado Politics, 2-23-18)
  • “Town brawl” (Aurora Sentinel, 2-22-18)
  • “Democrat Jason Crow’s first digital campaign ad targets Coffman’s gun lobby money” (Denver Channel, 2-23-18)
  • Democrats take gun control demands to suburban House races” (CNN, 2-24-18)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman talks during a town hall meeting
 with constituents in a high school assembly hall in Greenwood
Village, Feb. 20, 2018 | David Zalubowski/AP
It remains to be seen if the gun issue has a stronger or longer life than after New Town and the myriad of subsequent mass shootings, including of Congresspersons Gabby Gifford and Steve Scalise, who are divided for and against gun control, respectively.

Coffman is a supporter and recipient of NRA money, which he defends. He does have a limited gun safety platform, including outlawing bump stocks and more federal money for school safety, but the violence that has punctuated the South Metro area from Columbine to the Aurora theater is a dangerous backdrop for a strong NRA-supported congressperson.

Hickenlooper Goes to Iowa

The DU political panel last Thursday speculated that Governor Hickenlooper was running for president and would be on his way to Iowa (the first caucus state on the road to the White House). Hickenlooper, more or less, confirmed it over the weekend in D.C. at the National Governor’s meeting when he stated he would announce his decision later this year as his gubernatorial term ends. He said he doesn’t want his staff to be distracted with a presidential run.

He made himself available on national and D.C. media on school shootings (acts of terrorism) and a new proposal for health care announced with his fellow governors. He and Governor John Kasich of Ohio had already promoted a health proposal last August with some hints of an independent run for president. Kasich is making early moves to oppose President Trump’s nomination.

The Democratic primary in 2020 should be a wide open battle. Looking back to 1976 after the Nixon impeachment and Ted Kennedy decided not to run and the 1992 primary when Mario Cuomo left the field to a host of aspiring Democratic contenders, in both cases, moderate governors from southern states won the nomination.

Could this be the year for a moderate governor from Colorado?

Gov. John Hickenlooper joins others to push bipartisan National
 Health Care Compromise, Feb. 25, 2018 | CBS Denver 

Tancredo is Out. Who Are the Frontrunners for Governor? A Panel of Experts.
Sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research
Moderator: Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School; Panelists: Dick Wadhams – Republican campaign manager and former State Chair; Steve Welchert – Democratic campaign manager; Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf –Colorado lobbyists with Colorado Legislative Services; and Vincent Carroll – Former editorial page editor for Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. Thursday, Feb. 22

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Pueblo Chieftain: Colorado Candidates and Gun Control

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has made gun control a top issue for Colorado gubernatorial candidates.

They are following the national distinctions between the parties, but with a slightly more restrained approach among Democrats given the state’s reputation as more gun friendly and the 2013 recall backlash on new gun laws. Peter Roper in a Pueblo Chieftain quoted me and polled the candidates on their proposals.
Floyd Ciruli, whose Ciruli Associates polls are among the must trusted in Colorado, said the continuing tragedies of mass shootings has moved the public's opinion on gun control, but not the political leadership.
"Nationally, the support for specific gun-control measures tends be around 60 percent or higher, but the political lines haven't budged much at all," Ciruli said. "Politically, the gun question is still considered to be very controversial, especially in swing districts."
Most candidates mentioned mental health. The following are highlights recorded by Roper.

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.

Bill to resolve pot tax error heads to Hickenlooper’s desk
Fix to marijuana taxes for special districts headed to Colorado governor
Bill to restore marijuana-tax funding to RTD, SCFD signed into law

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 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 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.

The Failing New York Times

The New York Times continues to be America’s highest quality newspaper. And, the more Donald Trump attacks it, the better it appears to do in terms of readers. The Times is also doing massive amounts of advertising, especially for its digital products. The key for a newspaper’s survival today is turning analogue content into digital revenue.

Political news coverage of the Trump administration’s and Washington’s daily dramas have produced a boon for many publications from the right, left and center. The Times reported 99,000 new digital subscribers in the fourth quarter, for a total of 2.2 million digital news subscribers, up 613,000 from a year earlier.

A part of the surge to media, both legacy and digital, is the public’s view the news media is essential to a democratic society. Eighty percent of the public believes the news media is very important or critical to making sure citizens are informed, keeping leaders accountable and providing a platform for democratic communications.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tancredo is Out; Shakes Up Both Parties. DU Holds Forum With Political Experts to Discuss the Race.

With former Congressman Tom Tancredo out of the Colorado governor’s race, both parties begin to focus more on winning and less on sending a message. Who are the frontrunners today? Has Colorado moved so far left that the Democrats could sweep the governorship and both houses of the legislature? Or, is Colorado still independent enough to pick and choose between candidates of both parties?

Ask the experts.

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research is hosting a panel of top Colorado political experts on the status of the governor’s race and the legislature. The panel, called “Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization, includes:
  • 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
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Reception: 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Korbel School at DU
Sié Complex, Room 1150
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO

RSVP to: Jane Bucher-McCoy at or 303.871.2882

Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, will moderate the panel. It is cosponsored in conjunction with the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Friday, February 9, 2018

They’re In, They’re Out. The Revolving Door for Governor.

Both parties think they can win the Colorado open governor seat. Expensive primaries ($25 million possible) are underway. A crowd of ambitious top state politicians have considered the race. Some have said no, some yes, and some yes and no. It’s been a revolving door.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Volatility Up, Dow Down

After an incredible run, the Dow began a correction that reached 10 percent during intraday trading since the volatility ramped up on Monday, January 29, the day before the State of the Union. The 666 fall-off on last Friday (Feb. 2) shifted the investor attitude to watchful anxiety. The 1175 drop on Monday (Feb. 5) reflected panic. It was the largest point downturn in Dow history and a significant percentage drop of 4 percent. Dow at lower levels produces greater percentage declines. The 508 point drop in October 1987 was 23 percent of the market.

Clearly volatility is up, with 500-point swings becoming common. In fact, Tuesday, February 6, the trading range was 1167 points, the second largest in history. It’s also clear the synchronized worldwide growth trend can quickly become the synchronized worldwide sell-off, with indexes in Asia and Europe showing point drops equal to or greater than the Dow (Tuesday, Feb. 6 Europe down 2.4, Nikkei 4.7).

The President has finally figured out it’s best to talk about the fundamentals and end the endless stock touting. The new debate centers around the possible inflationary effect of the Republicans’ fiscal policy of a massive debt-financed tax cut nine years into an expansion.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Gloomy Former Governors Meet at DAC Forum

Last Friday, former governor and presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, visited Colorado for a Denver Forum session. In attendance was his old friend and colleague, Dick Lamm.

The two governors have a long history. Both were first elected in 1974 and served 12 years in their respective states, Massachusetts and Colorado. Dukakis lost the Democratic primary after his first term, but came back in 1983 for eight more years.

Dukakis was the Democratic nominee in 1988, losing to George H.W. Bush, and Lamm tried to wrestle the Reform Party nomination from Ross Perot in 1996 and lost. As Lamm points out, the Reform Party was a wholly owned Perot franchise.

Lamm was on a potential list to be in the Dukakis cabinet and Dukakis was a jacket endorsement of Lamm’s 2013 book, “Brave New World of Healthcare Revisited.” They both went into teaching – Dukakis in Northeastern and UCLA (he likes the winters) and Lamm at DU (he just retired).

Both are notoriously gloomy about national debt and the ability of the political leadership or even the American system to act responsibly. Dukakis tore after the Republican tax reform as fiscally irresponsible at his DAC talk, and Lamm is famous for railing on the failures of the health care system.

Here are the differences: 
Dukakis is far more the Democratic Party reformer and Lamm the dreamer of a third-party or independent candidacy. Dukakis revels in his Greek ethnic identity and believes we should welcome more immigrants. Lamm is the old zero population growth adherent and thinks we should keep the borders tight and immigrants assimilated.

Both now in their 80s (Dukakis at 84 and Lamm 82) – gloomy or not – are still in the public policy game.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Davos and Worldwide Opinion of U.S.

State of the Union speeches are important events in presidential careers. It was even a greater opportunity and threat for this president. Donald Trump’s joint session speech in February 2017 was one of the highpoints in the chaos of the first month. But as Trump begins his second year, his approval number remains low and a sense of foreboding has crept into Republican calculations that, regardless of policy successes like tax reform, his style will be a drag on the party in November.

To maximize the value of a State of the Union speeches, presidents and their staff design both before and after public relations strategies to shore up some weaknesses, highlight strengths and present new initiatives. Davos was an opportunity, for example, because it commanded the attention of people who value the worldwide economic surge, but have reservations of Trump’s policies and personality.

Davos Repositioning
Trump’s public relations effort began as he walked out the door of the White House to jet to Switzerland. It offered a well-timed forum to claim he wanted to testify under oath with the Mueller investigation (major conditions) and had a plan for DACA immigrants (major attachments). While in Davos, the repositioning continued as he said international treaties, like TPP and climate change, were agreements the U.S. was still amendable to join under the right conditions. Further, he said nice things to Theresa May to repair his ham-handed damage to the British relationship and possibly wheedle an invitation to the royal wedding. And, of course, he gave a toned down speech written more by Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster than Steve Miller or remnants of the Steve Bannon crowd.

Decline in U.S. Approval, America First and President Trump
Davos was a success, which Trump will use to counter the broad international criticism he has engendered in his first year. It would be difficult to drive down worldwide public opinion more effectively than Trump did. The latest worldwide Gallup Poll shows an 18 percentage point drop in the credibility of the U.S. worldwide, from 48 percent in 2016 to 30 percent now (a reader pointed out it's a 37.5% drop). America’s credibility is 4 points lower than in President Bush’s last year (2008). The U.S. joins Russia in low approval.

Friday, February 2, 2018

If You Live by the Dow, You Die by the Dow

President Trump, anxious to find a credible metric that records his success and which he can translate into political influence and personal popularity, has chosen the rapid 14-month run-up in the stock market.

Unfortunately, the Dow dropped 540 points in two days (177 and 362) last Monday and Tuesday (State of the Union day). While this appears to be a short-term blip and a possible buying opportunity, it reminds traders and investors that a pricey market, negative signals from the Fed (rising interest rates) or some geopolitical event could lead to more volatility and decline.

Trump hasn’t as yet been able to improve his own approval rating from the glow of the economy and the Dow. It may be possible, but, as of now, Trump’s approval rating appears more dependent on his tone and language and less influenced by regulations cancelled and tax cuts passed.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Ciruli Dashboard: One Year Into First Term

President Trump is consistent. He may shift topics and tone for special occasions, such as Davos and State of the Union, but mostly his style and rhetoric is set and it is reflected in the near unwavering 40 percent approval rating he has had for his first term. He continues to hold 75 percent of self-identified Republicans, but he has failed to expand his base, and as the November 2018 midterm elections loom, losing the House of Representatives becomes more of a possibility.

Trump and the Republican leadership are hoping the roiling economy and tax cut benefits will shift opinion in their direction. And there is some evidence it may, even as Trump’s personal demeanor undermines the good mood. Trump’s approval rating for his economic performance is up 5 points since the new year, even as his overall approval has varied around 40 percent and his foreign policy approval lingers at 36 percent (data from

Hickenlooper Water Legacy: Durango Herald and Colorado Politics

Governor Hickenlooper answered questions for a half-hour at the Colorado Water Congress annual convention in his likely last presentation before the group. In a dialogue with me, he focused considerable attention on the need for new money for projects.

A key point was that if the water community doesn’t claim the right to the state’s severance tax, it will be lost to others.

Hickenlooper has a water legacy from appointing Prowers County farmer and rancher, John Stulp, as his water counselor and members of his senior staff to completing the state’s first water plan in November 2015.

Covering the question and answer session was Marianne Goodland for Colorado Politics and the Durango Herald:

Gov. Hickenlooper touts severance taxes to pay for state water plan
Gov. John Hickenlooper, on another stop on his farewell tour, talked to the water community Thursday that largely backed the development of the Colorado water plan in 2015 and what the future holds for Colorado water.

Hickenlooper was initially expected to talk about his water legacy during the Colorado Water Congress luncheon in southeastern Denver, but instead, he addressed how he regards water and how the state ought to pay for the water plan’s estimated $20 billion price tag.

Before the start of Hickenlooper’s remarks, the Water Congress took the pulse of those in attendance about what the next governor should do with the water plan. Seventy-three percent said “use it,” 8 percent said the next governor should ignore it and 19 percent said the state should embark on a different path with regard to its water future.

Pollster Floyd Ciruli said the results show the new governor has to make sure the water plan and its issues remain a top priority, along with rural broadband, transportation and public education funding. Read more…

Governor John Hickenlooper | AP

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Denver Post and the Paywall

The Denver Post continues to lose print subscribers and is about to embark on what may be a final effort to stabilizing their revenue stream. The Denver Post will introduce a paywall of $11.99 per month for digital access.

The Denver Post is a community asset, even in its diminished form. It still commands attention with its in-depth stories, ability to set the agenda, and highlighting nefarious and heroic personalities. But, newsmakers – political, policy, commercial and sports – desiring to reach a regional audience must think even more serious about multiple placement.

Hickenlooper and Amazon

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s comments at City Club were more nuanced than the Denver Post headline: “If Amazon doesn’t pick Denver, there will be a sense of relief.”

Hickenlooper was recounting that he began his first term in 2011 with an intense focus on economic development with county-by-county economic plans, efforts to reduce state regulations, and a welcoming recruitment attitude toward new and expanding businesses. But the Governor related how, as he begins his final year of speeches and legislative action, growth exhaustion and even a backlash are in the air.

His warning to the business community is to address the transportation, water, Internet and other major infrastructure issues that are straining public opinion and hampering job development. He argued it’s very hard to restart business recruitment once a community turns against it.

He’s right.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The USS Carl Vinson Visits Da Nang

No, it’s not the beginning of the liberation of Vietnam. It’s just a friendly port call for one of the U.S.’s most formidable carrier battle groups – the USS Carl Vinson.

USS Carl Vinson battle group | Getty
It is ironic the carrier is visiting Da Nang, the busiest base in the Vietnam War 50 years after the most celebrated military action that changed the course of the war – the Tet Offensive.

But where a country stands depends on where it sits. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is on the eastern edge of the Indochina Peninsula facing the South China Sea, an area it shares with a newly aggressive China. Vietnam has been realigning itself with allies on the Pacific Rim and especially the U.S. The USS John McCain, a destroyer named for Senator McCain’s father and grandfather, both U.S. Navy admirals, has already visited (2016 Cam Ranh Bay), but the Carl Vinson is an even bigger signal that competition is the South Pacific will be a geopolitical hotspot for the foreseeable future.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Colorado Politics: Will Colorado’s Next Guv Keep Water at Top of Agenda?

More than 70 percent of Colorado’s water leadership believe that the state’s snow this winter will be below or very below average. The voting on water issues took place at the annual Colorado Water Congress with several hundred leaders gathered to hear the Governor give his final water legacy speech. Both the Governor and the audience, who voted with their cell phones, were optimistic that the state water plan would continue to be a guide for planning by the next administration.

In a Colorado Politics column, I describe Colorado’s water utilities’ efforts to stay ahead of droughts with new storage, reuse and conservation.

Will Colorado’s Next Guv Keep Water at Top of Agenda?
More than a decade ago, Colorado learned that it faces a projected shortfall of more than 400,000 acre-feet of water by 2040. The amount, if stored and if conservation techniques were implemented simultaneously, would supply water to 2 million people. But during the past 10 years, the state has continued to attract people – now, more than 2 million newcomers are expected to arrive by 2040. Meanwhile, Colorado is susceptible to drought cycles, with the last one occurring in 2012. This 2017-2018 winter season is certainly starting out exceptionally dry in the high country, which is of concern because the Front Range gets the majority of its water supply from mountain snowmelt. Water supply is a constant priority in Colorado.

Fortunately, the state has a water plan and hundreds of water agencies committed to meeting the challenge. Some are large, like Denver Water, Aurora Water, Colorado Springs Utilities and Northern Water, and deliver thousands of acre-feet of water to millions of customers. But most agencies are smaller and support Colorado’s regional towns and cities, farms and ranches. Read more…

Friday, January 26, 2018

Marijuana Panel Brings National and State Polling and Policy Experts to Colorado at National Conference

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver (DU) will sponsor a panel on marijuana, public opinion and legalization at the AAPOR national conference at the Denver Sheridan on May 15.

National and state pollsters will join legalization and regulatory experts and policymakers to describe how public opinions shaped the passage and implementation of marijuana legalization in Colorado and other states. They will also focus attention on the changed political climate from Washington D.C. and how it could affect public attitudes and the future of marijuana legalization in Colorado and around the country.

AAPOR, the national association of public opinion researchers, was founded in Central City in 1946 and first headquartered at DU. This will be their first national conference in Denver.

Floyd Ciruli, the director of the Crossley Center, will be the local organizer of the panel. The Crossley Center at DU is named for Archibald and his daughter, Helen Crossley, two pioneers of survey research and founders of AAPOR.

More information about the panel will be available as the agenda is finalized. Find information about the AAPOR conference here.