Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Historic, High-Profile Win Seals Pelosi’s Legacy

Nancy Pelosi, having moved through the ranks of numerous historic firsts, most famously, the first woman speaker of the House (2007), is now securing her position in the pantheon of the greatest speakers. The start of the Joe Biden presidency has produced an extraordinary year of legislating, especially given the narrow majorities, with the American Rescue Plan (COVID-19 relief, passed House on Feb. 11, 2021), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (bipartisan, passed House Nov. 5, 2021) and now the slightly less than $2 trillion Build Back Better Act (passed 220 to 213, Nov. 19, 2021). Also, this year she managed the impeachment of ex-President Donald Trump (his second). 

This year adds to two decades of work in the leadership. In her first speakership, she had the primary congressional responsibility for passing Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (219 to 212, March 21, 2010). After Democrats lost their majority in 2011 and went into opposition, Pelosi fought to keep her job in a second stint as minority leader. She helped position Democrats for their 2018 comeback. With the restoration of the Democratic majority, Pelosi stopped much of Trump’s legislative agenda and managed his first impeachment.

It’s been an incredible run and there’s still more than a year to go. Completing 35 years, will she retire after 2022?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi celebrates with her caucus after House
approval of Build Back Better bill, Nov. 19, 2021 | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Read Associated Press: As Biden’s big bill advances, so does Pelosi’s big legacy

Congratulations to New U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Cole Finegan

A 1986 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Cole Finegan was just confirmed by the Senate as the U.S. Attorney for Colorado. 

Finegan has served in an incredible run of important political positions in Colorado. His appointment to U.S. Attorney represents his step from managing partner in a worldwide law firm and as a political advisor, chief of staff and top attorney for elected or aspiring politicians for 30 plus years to being nominated for a U.S. Senate confirmed position. He has also volunteered for a myriad of civic causes. For example, working with former DA Mitch Morrissey and his wife, Maggie, to establish a domestic violence victim center.

Congratulations Cole.

Cole Finegan | Photo: Andy Cross/Denver Post

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

City Commits Another $700 Million to Airport

Hopefully, the next phase of the airport project will be better managed than the last several. Fortunately for the previous manager, the problems were somewhat less visible due to the pandemic compared to the electric baggage fiasco in the early 1990s.

Denver International Airport’s CEO Kim Day; Larry Naum, federal security
director for the Transportation Security Administration in Colorado; and
Cristal Torres-DeHerrera, chief of staff, pull out a life-size rendering of the
new security checkpoints that will be built in the Great Hall
improvements, phase two | Dennis Huspeni/The Denver Gazette

Read Denver Gazette: Committee Oks $700 million in bonds for Denver International Airport capital improvements

Monday, November 22, 2021

Denver in Decline or on a Boom?

The dominant image of Denver since 2020 has been a city in decline, with references to violent demonstrations, homelessness, COVID lockdowns, project timelines missed and disputes among city officials. But neither Denver voters nor its civic leaders have stopped investing in the city’s future.

Bond Projects

Denver voters approved $260 million in new bonds for projects of housing, mobility, parks and recreation, and culture and education, including libraries, The Denver Botanic Gardens, The Denver Center, the Zoo and Nature and Science Museum. Although the new Stock Show arena was rejected, the project still has millions in construction money and likely the City will find a way to build the arena.

The new Sie Welcome Center at Denver Art Museum,
Oct. 7, 2021 | Rebecca Slezak/The Denver Post
Denver Art Museum

A $175 million renovation was completed and received rave architectural critics’ reviews and community excitement.

Denver Water and Gross Reservoir

Denver Water, after more than 20 years of planning and permitting, reached agreement with Boulder County to build a half billion dollar expansion of Gross Reservoir to provide water for its 1.5 million Denver and suburban customers.

Cherry Creek West

Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post

A new long-term project to develop the west side of the Cherry Creek mall area was announced, incorporating residential, office, open space and the creek.

All projects will drive Denver in a positive direction in 2022 and beyond.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Democrats in Trouble in Colorado Congressional Races

The Colorado Democratic Party is on the defense in even holding its current four congressional seats, much less win the new competitive 8th District. Democrats everywhere are facing a harsh political climate and most national pundits are predicting a Republican takeover of Congress. Because of redistricting, Colorado Democrats could go from a 4 to 3 Democratic congressional delegation to a 4 to 4, or even 3 to 5 favoring Republicans.

The Democrats challenge:

  • The average loss of U.S. House seats for the incumbent president’s first midterm is 26. Republicans take control if they win only 5 seats.
  • President Biden’s approval rating continues to decline. The average is 41 percent, but several new polls show it in the “30s.”
  • The generic ballot test, which is a good indicator of congressional seat swings, is now negative for Democrats for the first time this year. Republicans are up 4 points on average. Because of apportionment, Democrats historically need a positive rating with a few extra points.
  • Early redistricting reports indicate Republicans will pick up seats nationally. In Colorado, an independent process greatly benefitted Republicans by helping their most targeted incumbent, Lauren Boebert (3rd CD), and making more vulnerable a longtime Democratic incumbent, Ed Perlmutter (7th CD). Republicans have already targeted Perlmutter and are spending hundreds of thousands on attack advertisements.
  • Most importantly, the new 8th District was made very competitive, and the highest profile early declared candidate, former Weld County Commissioner and current State Senator Republican Barbara Kirkland, is likely now the frontrunner.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Abortion: The Supreme Court and Public Opinion

The U.S. Supreme Court may strike down Roe v. Wade this term as it considers abortion cases on appeal. Although the American public is divided about the moral dimension of abortion, a strong majority support Roe v. Wade and its legal protections, which conservative-dominated legislatures continue to restrict. The Washington Post reports in a Nov. 7-10, 2021 national poll (1,001 U.S. adults) that 60 percent of the public support the upholding the 1973 ruling whereas only 27 percent would overrule it.

Democrats overwhelmingly support it (82%), but interestingly, Republicans are divided with 42 percent favoring maintaining it to 45 percent supporting overturning the ruling. The assertive anti-Roe v. Wade Republican officeholders are representing a very divided party and an opposed general public on the issue.

Read The Buzz: Roe v. Wade at Risk

Democratic Party Moves to Its Left – Out of Alignment With Its Narrow Majority and Greater Publics

Joe Biden’s challenge is to be leading a party with a new liberal majority in its ideological preference, but with only the slimmest majority in Congress.

Over the last two decades, the Democratic Party has shifted 23 percentage points to the left, from 28 percent liberal in 2000 to 51 percent self-identified liberal in 2020. A party that was a quarter conservative in 2000 cut that in half the last 20 years, down to 12 percent conservative today, and self-identified moderates dropped 7 points down to 35 percent. So, the party’s ideological makeup is 51 percent liberal and 47 percent moderate-conservative, but all the momentum is with liberals.

Hence, President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer must craft legislation with the tiniest majority for a very liberal party, including many members of the congressional delegation. Their success passing covid relief and bipartisan infrastructure within their own ranks has been a major achievement.

As the table shows, independents are more conservative (29%) than liberal (20%), but primarily label themselves as moderate (48%). Republicans have been overwhelmingly conservative for several decades (75% today), with few liberals (4%) and moderates declining 11 points to 20 percent during the last two decades.

Besides leading a party that has shifted dramatically to the left in recent years, Democratic leaders’ other problem is that the public is still moderately conservative in its identified bent. Gallup reports that the ideology of the U.S. is today only a quarter liberal (25%) with most people claiming to be conservative (36%) or moderate (35%).