Friday, January 21, 2022

Bennet Must Deal With Undertow

Barack Obama carried Colorado in 2012 by 5 points against Mitt Romney. But two years later, Obama’s Gallup approval rating in October and November 2014 was in the low 40 percent range, with more than a 10-point negative between approval and disapproval. Incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall lost in 2014 by 2 points to Republican Cory Gardner. Although Gardner was a popular incumbent congressman, he was helped by Democrats having a negative national political environment. Harry Reid lost his majority to Mitch McConnell in 2014. Control of the Senate switched to Republicans as Democrats lost seven seats Romney had carried in 2012 and two Obama had carried – Iowa and Colorado.

Bennet must also deal with a powerful national Democratic undertow. Democrats are expected to lose the House. All the major indicators are negative for the incumbent party. Biden’s low approval, the generic ballot test leans Republican, partisan identity has shifted Republican, and twenty-eight Democratic congressmen, including Ed Perlmutter, have retired.

However, the key question is: Can Colorado Republicans find a candidate that donors want to support with millions of dollars, unite Republicans and win a super majority of unaffiliated voters? A tall order, but Biden’s numbers are helping them.

Senator Michael Bennet speaks during the Senate Intelligence Committee,
 Washington, DC | Demetrius Freeman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Thursday, January 20, 2022

April 1968 – MLK and RFK

April 1968 was a tragic, but extraordinary moment in American history when the nation’s two most significant leaders offered elegant statements of belief – Martin Luther King, Jr. as he gave his final speech in Memphis, Tennessee, the evening before he was shot, and Robert F. Kennedy as he spoke to a nighttime crowd in Indianapolis, Indiana, and announced the assassination to the crowd of mostly Black residents.

MLK, April 3, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee, Mason Temple speech before striking sanitation workers:

“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

RFK, April 4, 1968, Rally at Indianapolis, Indiana, largely Black audience, said:

“I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some very sad news for all of you Could you lower those signs, please? 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; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for 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. 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.

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. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.”

Two months later, June 5, Kennedy was assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California primary.

Read MLK’s “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech here
Read RFK’s speech of April 4, 1968 here

The Political Landscape for 2022 Sponsored by Colorado Water Congress

Floyd Ciruli, longtime consultant for the Colorado Water Congress, will lead a panel of the state’s leading political experts on national political changes and impact on Colorado in 2022.

Well-known Republican commentator and former Republican Party state chair, Dick Wadhams, joins with Mike Dino, consultant with national lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, who led the host committee for the 2008 National Democratic Convention in Denver. The January 26-27 annual Colorado Water Congress statewide convention is especially interested in the impact of political changes in the federal delegation and state leadership for water infrastructure spending and forest and fire policy in the West.

  • Floyd Ciruli, moderator, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research
  • Dick Wadhams, Denver Post columnist, CBS4 commentator, consultant, former Republican state chair
  • Mike Dino, commentator with CBS4, longtime principle with Squire Patton Boggs, organized host committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver

Inflation and Crime: Polis is Trying to Get Ahead of It

Voters are saying they are not happy with rising inflation and crime rates. Republicans have made them daily talking points. Democrats know they are vulnerable as the party in power in Washington and here.

Gov. Jared Polis delivers his State of the State address at the Colorado
State Capitol, Jan. 13, 2022 |  AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via AP
Governor Polis also knows it, and to blunt the criticism and slide to the center, he’s taken up lowering the costs of government as a cause. In an online interview with Jesse Paul of the Colorado Sun, he mentioned a myriad of cost lowering proposals, fees, etc. for state government. It was his priority issue. In his State of the State message, he said: “If it isn’t clear, saving Coloradans money and keeping our state affordable is my top priority this session.”

After criticizing TABOR refunds for years, Colorado Democrats are now fans. Inflation and a surfeit of state dollars has made giving money back to taxpayers a political asset.

Crime also made the list in Polis’ speech: “I’ve never been one to shy away from ambitious goals, which is why I want to spend the next five years making Colorado one of the top 10 safest states in the country.” After a spate of laws and rhetoric expressing concern on policing, prosecution and incarceration in the last two legislative sessions, Democrats are moving to the right as crime rates move up and reelection looms.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Predictions and Election 2022

WATCH: Colorado Political Experts Describe Trends and Predictions in Election 2022 

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and the Center on American Politics hosted an informed and lively discussion on the major changes expected in Washington and Colorado politics during 2022. One longtime congressperson has already retired. What’s next? Watch the panel review the expected 2022 contests.

WATCH VIDEO

The Crossley Center’s public engagement programs aim to attract thought-leaders and policymakers with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to participate in an informed and civil public conversation. The purpose is to give DU audiences and Coloradans an understanding of the major influences affecting their politics and policies.

Market Ends a Roaring Year, Then Turns Down First Quarter

A record stock market year ended with the S&P up 27 percent for the year, its third year of double-digit gains. But mostly due to the variant Omicron. a surging rate of inflation (up 7%), and supply and employment disruptions, the market has receded the first two weeks in what appears to be a weak first quarter.

The outlook improves over the entire year, but there is considerable uncertainty, with some forecasters predicting a down market in 2022 and others a more moderate continuation of the recovery. The politics of 2022 suggest support for higher rates as inflation has gained attention, but D.C. wants to avoid a recession 2023.

Stock Show is Back in the Saddle

As Ron Williams received the Citizen of the West award and Governor Polis worked the tables, 800 guests enjoyed a short rib during the dinner’s return after the 2021 cancellation.

The dinner is an opening event in the Stock Show run, which lasts until January 23. It was off to a strong start.

Cille and Ron Williams, center, cut the ribbon celebrating the opening of
the Cille and Ron Williams Yards at the National Western Center
in Denver. Right to left: Doug Jones, Ron Williams, Cille Willams,
Paul Andrews, Pete Coors | Scott Weiser/The Gazett
e

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Federal Reserve: Shifting Leaders, Now Problems

Jerome Powell was reappointed as Federal Reserve Chair by President Biden, but it is being accompanied by major changes. The focus on employment and recovery has shifted to inflation. The Fed has been slow moving in its reaction to higher inflation. Last fall, it reduced proposed quantitative easing by June, now the end date is March with three rate hikes tossed in during 2022 (some speculate 6 quarter-point increases).

The inflation that was called transitory is now identified as much more sustaining and likely to stay above (likely well above) 2 percent throughout the year. The political impact of inflation may be even greater than that of unemployment. People see it at the gas pump ($5.00 a gallon) and the grocery stores ($15 per lb. bacon). Plus, it’s hard to be concerned about unemployment when jobs are going unfilled and wages are rising rapidly.

The Fed was late, but now the challenge is to brake, but not cause a crash.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Trends and Predictions: Colorado Election Experts Start the New Year

The Crossley Center at DU presents a Zoom conversation on January 13, 2022 at 11:00 am MT with a panel of top political, policy and academic experts discussing the political terrain in Colorado for the 2022 elections. Will the national trends boost local Republicans? Will Senator Bennet or Governor Polis be vulnerable? Which party has the advantage in the new congressional district? 

“Colorado Election 2022: Trends and Predictions” will be presented virtually via Zoom at 11:00 am (MT) on Thursday, January 13, 2022, by the University of Denver’s Crossley Center and the Center on American Politics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

Crossley Center Director Floyd Ciruli and the panel will highlight national and local political and public opinion trends and how they will affect the Colorado election. Panel participants:

  • Dick Wadhams, Denver Post columnist, CBS4 commentator, consultant, Republican
  • Sheila MacDonald, Consultant for candidates, local and statewide ballot issues, Democrat
  • Melanie Layton, State legislative lobbyist for more than two decades
  • Seth Masket, Professor and director of DU’s Center on American Politics

Join the Conversation
Thursday, January 13, 2022
11:00 am MT

REGISTER HERE

The Crossley Center’s public engagement programs aim to attract thought-leaders and policymakers with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to participate in an informed and civil public conversation. The purpose is to give DU audiences and Coloradans an understanding of the major influences affecting their politics and policies.

Denver Loves Its Libraries

Denver voters and civic leaders love their libraries. They have invested millions since the 1990s to create one of the largest and most used systems between Chicago and Los Angeles.

DPL Central Library

Ciruli Associates, working with the city’s head librarian Rick Ashton and the Denver Public Library’s (DPL) team of managers, appointed directors, volunteers and donors, directed the campaign. The effort began in the late 1980s and culminated in a successful election in 1990. Denver voters approved a $91 million new central library by 75 percent.

It was completed in 1996. Michael Graves, a leading postmodern designer and architect, incorporated the building from the 1950s by local architect Burnham Hoyt into a new structure that has a unique exterior design and a functional and beautiful interior.

DPL Branch Libraries

But that was just the beginning of supporting the library system. In 2007, a $56 million bond was approved by voters during the Hickenlooper administration and Head Librarian Shirley Amore. The Library’s money went to upgrading its extensive branch system. Ciruli Associates provided research for the overall $550 million citywide infrastructure bond and managed the Library’s campaign. Since then, the DPL has been part of several subsequent bonds and revenue approvals by voters, including one in November 2021.

Ciruli Associates and Libraries

Working with DPL managers and supporters has been one of Ciruli Associates’ most satisfying efforts. The Library is a legacy project that contributes to Denver being a very special city.

DPL Central Library | Photo: City and County of Denver

Economy is Strong, But Americans Pessimistic

As growth surged toward yearend, it’s clear the American economy in 2021 was one of the best performing in the world and as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession of 2008-09. The S&P market index was up 27 percent, the largest gain in 20 years; unemployment fell to 4 percent by year’s end; wages are trending upward, with employees in demand; and the GDP projected to reach 5 percent in 2022, although after a slow start due to the continued pandemic.

But, there still is uncertainty with inflation ending the year at above 6 percent and the newest Covid variant, Omicron, causing record-high hospitalizations and a quarter of the public stubbornly anti-vaccination.

A comparison of Gallup’s economic polling data from late 2021 and February 2020, just before news of the pandemic was broadly reported, is significant. A “poor” rating of the economy grew by 27 percent over the period and “only fair” was up 14 percent. The shift came from “excellent” and “good” ratings that dropped similar amounts from early 2020.

A review of Gallup’s near monthly reporting of the data shows that the shift to the negative view on economic conditions on both measures took place starting in the early summer of 2021 as the Covid Delta variant emerged.

The public’s view of future economic conditions is equally down and reflects a major shift since before the pandemic, with 70 percent of people currently rating the economic conditions as “getting worse” compared to 33 percent in February 2020 and only 26 percent currently saying they are improving versus 61 percent in early 2020.

The pandemic and its affect on the public is shaping the public’s view of the economy more than much of the good end of year economic news.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Protecting Colorado’s Water

Protecting and putting Colorado’s water to beneficial use has been a priority and a challenge since the state’s founding. It continues today in the face of significant growth in the West and the disruption of climate change.

Water Wars in the West

In 1977, my first task in Washington D.C. as a junior member of Congressman Frank Evans’ legislative staff was to organize opposition to newly inaugurated President Jimmy Carter’s budget cuts of Western water projects. Western states banded together to save funding and won the immediate fight, but it was clear that project financing from Congress was declining and regulations from environmental agencies was increasing. The change was reinforced in 1991 when the long-planned Denver metro region Two Forks project was stopped by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But Western water leaders are adaptable and they focused on developing water storage and conservation projects with in-state financing and commitments to environmental negotiations, management and mitigation.

Water Projects of the 21st Century

The great Colorado drought of 2002-03 highlighted the need for action and launched a creative and collaborative series of projects. Built since were the Southern Delivery System project of El Paso County and adjacent areas, the Prairie Waters project of Aurora, the Northern Water’s Windy Gap Firming and Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) of northwest Colorado, and Gross Reservoir expansion of Denver Water. They are examples of that represent $5 billion in investments, mostly from Colorado tax- and rate-payers.

NISP and Rueter-Hess Reservoir

Rueter-Hess Reservoir
Our firm, Ciruli Associates, has assisted a number of major projects, including NISP in 2008 at the beginning of the project’s supplemental EIS work through the last couple of years, culminating in state and federal permits. In 1998, we joined Frank Jaeger and his team at Parker Water and Sanitation District to bring the Rueter-Hess Reservoir and Jaeger Dam into completion, establishing the primary infrastructure and storage and water management in the South metro area. In addition, the project was designed to collaborate with agriculture in the Logan County area and with the Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) partnership linking together Denver regional water sources and providers.

Colorado Water Congress

Since the 1990s, we have been involved with the state’s primary water association, the Colorado Water Congress, specifically to monitor and educate the public on water ballot issues that could affect water laws and investments in Colorado.

Ciruli Associates and Water

The importance of protecting Colorado’s water and making effective use of it for citizens remains a state priority as it enters a new decade. This work was among our firm’s most valuable contribution to the state and highly professionally rewarding.

Steve Bannon and the January 6 Insurrection

Steve Bannon, pardoned for crimes in the White House, but indicted for refusing Congressional subpoenas, played a key role in spreading the “Big Lie” as reported by the Brookings Institution (1-14-22). Along with nearly nonstop podcasting election misinformation from August to January 202-21, he manned a “war room” (the name of his podcast) from a suite in the Willard Hotel with a group of former President Donald Trump’s political operators, family and friends. He was closely involved with the rally and storming of the Capitol. January 6, 2021 was a Steve Bannon-type of day.

Steve Bannon speaks to reporters after leaving federal court, 
Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 | Alex Brandon/AP

America’s Growth Stops, But People Keep Moving

The Census Bureau population estimates during the height of COVID-19 from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 showed that U.S. growth dropped from an average of 2 million new residents a year to less than 400,000. The population freeze reflects changes in all three of the major components of growth: deaths, births and immigration rates. The major impacts were COVID-19; changes in fertility rates, mostly from an aging population; and much more restrictive international immigration policies. 

Colorado Grows

In spite of the overall slowdown, some states keep gaining population, for example, Texas increased by 310,000 and Florida up more than 200,000, and no surprise, some keep losing, like New York down 319,000 and California losing 215,000 residents. Colorado gained about one percent in population during the COVID-19 year. The fastest growing states in the West were: Idaho (up 3%), Montana (2%), Utah (2%) and Arizona (2%).

Immigration Down

America’s population bust is making at least some contribution to the staffing shortages since international immigration remains low, even with high-profile surges on the Texas border, which so galvanizes the state’s governor and national politics. The new resident total of 245,000 is half the size of the previous year (477,000) and down from more than one million in the pre-Trump era.

With an aging population and limited immigration, lower population growth is likely to be a feature of the next decade.