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Tags: Colorado

GOP Makes Huge Strides in AG Elections



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When Adam Laxalt finally edged out a victory over Ross Miller in Nevada, Republicans had made history.

Laxalt was the last of five Republicans to win state attorney general races in six key races on Tuesday. When they are sworn in there will be more Republican attorneys general – 27 – than at any time in American history.

In addition, Republicans are hailing the election of two women AGs, Cynthia Coffman in Colorado and Leslie Rutledge in Arkansas, bringing their total from one to three.

“Our biggest victory is Nevada because of how much we had to overcome to win that race,” a celebratory Jessica Garrison, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, told me.

Laxalt versus Miller was considered “the marquee race in Nevada.” Laxalt’s win, with 46 percent of the vote to Miller’s 45, was the closet AG race of the night.

From the beginning, Laxalt had been considered a long shot. Nevada Political commentator Jon Ralston predicted this race would fall Miller’s way.

“My pledge to you is that I will work just as tirelessly in office as I did on the campaign trail, fighting to protect Nevada’s laws and our Constitution against federal overreach,” Laxalt wrote in an email to supporters. “We will do the things we promised on the campaign – protect Nevada’s most vulnerable, lock away criminals, seek to provide our military families with affordable legal services, continue our efforts to prosecute human trafficking, fight drug addiction and drug crimes, and help eliminate the backlog in rape kits.”

In Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin, where none of the current Republican attorneys general were on the ballot, new Republicans took their places.

Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, who defeated incumbent Republican AG Tom Horne in the state’s August primary, beat Democratic opponent Felecia Rotellini 53 percent to 46 percent.

This was Rotellini’s second run for attorney general. She lost in 2010 to Horne and many  speculated this election would be her time.

“There are two things that don’t show up on paper,” Brnovich told me in an interview this morning, “and that’s heart and hard work and those things we have a lot of.”

Brnovich plans a “top-to-bottom review of the entire office, to ensure everyone is committing to serving Arizona and keeping families safe.”

He also says he focused on fighting back against the overreach of the Obama administration. “Next time he tries to promulgate job killing regulation, we will be there every step of the way to protect Arizona.”

In Colorado, Cynthia Coffman, chief deputy to term-limited attorney general John Suthers, defeated Democrat Don Quick by 11 percentage points, 52-41. Coffman’s margin of victory was the largest for any statewide race in last night’s election.

 “Over the next four years, I am going to build an office of community initiatives, which will bring the attorney generals office closer to the people of Colorado,” Coffman told supporters during her speech. “There is no higher calling or greater responsibility than being the people’s lawyer, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve you as your next attorney general.”

Republican Brad Schimel pulled out a 51 percent to 45 percent win over Democrat Susan Happ in Wisconsin. The races focused heavily on the commitment to keeping Wisconsin safe, with Republicans hammering home their argument that Happ has been soft on crime in her time as Jefferson County district attorney.

“The campaign is over, but there is a lot of work to be done,” Schimel said in a statement provided me.  “I put the heroin dealers on notice that they are public enemy number one.” Already, he has spoken with members of the Wisconsin legislature regarding his plans for tackling this public safety challenge.  

Three states gave the GOP a chance to pick up the AGs office, which they were successful in doing in Arkansas and Nevada.

Republican Leslie Rutledge won her race against Democrat Nate Steel 51 to 43. Rutledge’s win makes her the first female to be elected attorney general in the state, and the first time a Republican has held that office since Reconstruction.

Rutledge promised, in her victory speech, to use “grit, determination and love for Arkansas” in her time as AG for the next four years.

Tags: Nevada , Arizona , Colorado , Wisconsin , Arkansas

Colorado GOP Turns Out 61.1% of Its Registered Members, Democrats Turn Out 51.5%



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A Colorado reader digests the latest early-voting numbers:

Dems had better get a huge turnout advantage on election day.  If the election were based on the votes through yesterday afternoon, they would need to carry Independents by 65-35 to make up the difference (now, I realize that some GOP voters will go Dem, and Dem voters will go GOP, so this might not be completely accurate, but it’s close).

To put this in perspective, according to the SoS numbers as of the end of October, here is what voter registration looks like:

Total:   2,986,362

GOP       966,082  (32.3%)

Dem:      913,246  (30.5%)

So, 49 percent of registered voters have already voted. When pundits project 2.1M voters in Colorado, that would mean 70.3 percent turnout. That seems awfully high in a non-presidential year. So, yesterday I said that perhaps 2/3 have already voted, but it may be higher than that.

Interjection from Jim: This is the first year Colorado has used vote-by-mail, so we should expect turnout to be significantly higher than in past cycles. Oregon enjoyed turnout of 70 percent (2006) to 86 percent (2004) in its elections.

GOP turnout percentage is +8.1 points, while Dem turnout is +1.6 points.

GOP has turned out 61.1% of its registered voters, Dems have turned out 51.5%, while Others is much lower, at 36.4%.  So, could we be looking at an election where (i) both the GOP and Dems do pretty well with turnout of their respective voters, (ii) GOP does better by 5-10 points (in % of RVs turned out) because the GOP is more motivated (we’ve seen numbers in this range in polling of voter enthusiasm), and (iii) the Independents don’t turn out at nearly the same rate, and their turnout is much more in line with what one would expect for a mid-term election, or at a time when neither party is terribly well liked?

One figure working for the Republicans in Colorado: “Mail ballots have to arrive by 7:00 on election night. It doesn’t matter when they’re post-marked.” In some other states, such as Iowa, ballots will be accepted in the days after the election if they were postmarked one day before the election.

Colorado also permits residents to register to vote today and cast legal ballots.

Tags: Colorado

Where the AG Races Stand Heading into Election Day



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Republicans tomorrow night have a chance to win as many as five of six key attorney general races in Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Nevada and New Mexico.

Recent polls show Republican Mark Brnovich leading Democrat Felecia Rotellini in Arizona by nine points, in a race that appears all but decided.

The AG race seems to be solidly breaking the GOP’s way in Colorado, with Cynthia Coffman leading Democrat Don Quick by seven points. This in a state where Republicans are in a fight to the finish for governor and a U.S. Senate seat.

Republican Brad Schimel is facing a closer race in Wisconsin, but still leads his Democratic opponent, Susan Happ, by four percentage points in recent polling. This race has largely been over-shadowed by the gubernatorial election in which Gov. Scott Walker is seeking a second term after surviving the 2012 recall effort against him.

Arkansas Republican Leslie Rutledge faced criticism regarding voter registration and questionable emails she sent while working for the Department of Human Services. Still, she leads her Democratic opponent, Nate Steel, by 4 percent in the latest PPP survey.

Hopes have been high in Nevada, as Republican turnout in early voting has far surpassed previous mid-term election years. Recent poll numbers show Republican Adam Laxalt closing the gap on Democratic candidate Ross Miller, the current secretary of state.

Nevada will likely be the closest of all the AG races. The grandson of former Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt has overcome criticism for his lack of political experience and weathered a flood of negative advertising to make Democrats nervous going into Election Day.

Only in New Mexico, where Susan Riedel has thus far been unable to come close to her opponent, Democrat Hector Balderas, in polling does a Republican win look out of reach.

Riedel has the support of New Mexico’s Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Balderas, however, has far surpassed Riedel in fundraising, outspending her 4-1 on television advertising.

Balderas also has history on his side. Republicans haven’t won an AG’s race in the state in 28 years.

Five wins would mean 27 Republican attorneys general, the greatest number in American history.

Those wins, Scott Will, political director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, told me will “ensure an important layer of accountability on the final two years of the Obama administration.”

Tags: Colorado , Nevada , Arizona , New Mexico , Arkansas , Wisconsin

Colorado Republicans Now Lead by 104,000 Votes



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Happy November 1st, All Saints Day. The latest numbers from the Colorado secretary of state indicate that 371,190 registered Democrats have voted, 475,600 registered Republicans have voted, and 290,600 unaffiliated voters have voted.

That is a 104,410-vote advantage for Colorado Republicans, with more than 1.1 million votes in already. Turnout is expected to be at, or slightly above, 2 million. In the 2010 Colorado Senate race, 1.7 million people voted, but the new vote-by-mail system is expected to increase turnout.

Tags: Colorado , Cory Gardner , Bob Beauprez

Colorado’s Early Vote Through Monday: 42.8 Percent Republicans, 32.4 Percent Democrats



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

What the Gardner and Tillis Campaigns Are Thinking Right Now

I talked to a consultant who’s plugged in to the Republican Party’s efforts in the Senate races in Colorado and North Carolina.

For obvious reasons, he’s feeling good about Cory Gardner’s effort in Colorado, noting that Republicans continue to hold a big lead in early voting.

The October 27 numbers for early voting indicate that the returned ballots are 42.8 percent from registered Republicans, 32.4 percent from registered Democrats, and 26.9 percent from voters who are unaffiliated. In 2010, Republicans led the early vote 39.5 percent to 33.6 percent over Democrats.

In terms of raw numbers, 281,638 registered Republicans have voted so far, 213,738 Democrats, and 163,311 unaffiliated.

This consultant said that unlike with Ken Buck in 2010, the Republican base is rock-solid with Gardner, more than 90 percent of Republicans supporting him. (According to CNN’s exit poll, Buck won 89 percent of self-identified Republicans, while Democrat Michael Bennet won 94 percent of Democrats.) Udall is getting 90 percent of Democrats, and the independents break slightly to Udall; as noted before, Colorado independents are more Democratic-leaning than in other states.

He doesn’t expect Republicans to keep the ten-point lead throughout early voting, but he says it’s good place to be in at this stage of the early vote. The final turnout number should be somewhere around 2 million, not 2.3 million – so with 657,000 votes cast, close to a third of the vote is already in.

In North Carolina, the outlook for Thom Tillis has brightened somewhat. After he consistently trailed by about three points through most of September and early October, Tillis and incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan are tied in the latest NBC News/Marist poll and the latest Survey USA poll.

This consultant thinks that the ads from liberal outside groups in favor of Hagan may actually be backfiring. A key part of Hagan’s message for this reelection bid is to emphasize – or at least claim – her centrism, her independence, her willingness to defy the liberal party line. Then the airwaves are suddenly full of ads touting Hagan and attacking Tillis from the political action funds of . . . Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, and unions’ groups.

“That’s the comparison we wanted!” the consultant chuckles. “Conservative vs. liberal is a better split for us than Republican vs. Democrat. ‘Conservative senator’ is the runaway favorite in what voters wanted, and Hagan had been trying to insist she’s a conservative. And now all these liberal groups are coming in [trying to reelect Hagan]. They don’t realize that it’s a dog whistle to independent voters.”

This consultant does have one or two variables keeping him up at night.

“We definitely need our ground game to work,” he says. “It’s been reinvented a lot since 2012. If they can turn out more low-propensity Democrats than they did in 2010, then we need to turn out more low-propensity Republicans this cycle than we did in 2010. There’s a really big opportunity here to win a lot of Senate seats. To do that, it doesn’t have to be a climate like 2010, but it needs to be close to that.”

Overall, this consultant suggests that the disappointing early vote numbers for Democrats in other states reflect that there are “a few” members of that party who are now begrudgingly recognizing that the Obama approach hasn’t worked. “It’s hard to generate enthusiasm for something that isn’t working,” he says, listing ISIS, Ebola, and the border crisis as “new and fresh reminders no one is running the shop.” Throw in the VA and the awful launch of Obamacare, and voters are concluding, “maybe these people just aren’t good at government.”

Tags: Cory Gardner , Thom Tillis , North Carolina , Colorado , Early Voting

New Polling Shows GOP Lead in Arizona and Colorado AG Races



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A new poll out in Arizona today shows Republican Mark Brnovich leading Democrat Felecia Rotellini 38.6 percent to 31.6 in the race for attorney general.

In Colorado, a newly released survey by the Democratic polling firm PPP shows Republican Cynthia Coffman with 14-point lead on her Democratic opponent, Don Quick. Coffman is at 46 percent, while Quick trails at 32 percent.

Tags: Arizona , Colorado

A Tough Ad Aims to Persuade Hispanics in Colorado



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If you’ve ever wanted to see a conservative group fighting for the votes of Hispanics . . . check out this ad — running in both English and Spanish — from the group Conservative War Chest. The group, which also ran the “Gang of Five” commercials earlier in the year, is running the ad in “a heavy rotation” starting today on Telemundo and Univision in Colorado.

The Spanish-language version:

Is this ad over the top? Or exactly the kind of direct sales pitch conservatives have failed to make in the past?

Tags: Mark Udall , Colorado , Cory Gardner , Hispanics

Colorado Newspapers Rip Udall’s One-Note Campaign



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It’s not just the Denver Post editorial board that finds Senator Mark Udall’s relentless, ill-supported “war on women” argument unpersuasive and insulting.

Here’s the Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board:

Maybe Udall finally gets it. Few believe the pretense of a Republican war on women. The message was at first a waste of money and time. Now, it has backfired.

On the average day for the past several months, Udall’s campaign has produced multiple statements with each mentioning his support of “birth control,” “contraception” and/or “abortion” a dozen times or more. They did not come from 527s or other outside groups, but directly from the campaign. One might think Roe v. Wade hadn’t been decided 41 years ago. Or that women had no other pressing concerns.

The Fort Collins Coloradan chose not to endorse a candidate, and complained about Udall’s ads:

This year, the Coloradoan editorial board will not be endorsing a Senate candidate because Rep. Cory Gardner declined to participate in an editorial board meeting. Gardner, a Republican, had scheduled a meeting, canceled it and his team representative said he would reschedule. But emails and phone calls were left unanswered. We encourage voters to eschew the TV ads and research Gardner’s stand on issues and votes in the U.S. House to better understand if he should represent Colorado.

Incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, did visit the editorial board. His answers were direct and forthright, except for his weak justification of continuing abortion attack ads. He chose to blame Gardner.

And the Grand Junction Sentinel, which did endorse Gardner, despite concerns about his position on abortion, also complained about both campaigns’ tone:

Indeed Udall’s campaign and that of his Republican opponent Cory Gardner have both taken to warning voters that each candidate is too extreme for Colorado. Gardner’s incessant drumbeat is that Udall has voted “99 percent” of the time with President Barack Obama. Udall has zeroed in on Gardner’s conflicting and confusing stance on personhood legislation as evidence that he’s trying to hide an ultraconservative agenda.

This fear-mongering, of course, is aimed at independent and undecided voters because those with entrenched party views have already made up their minds.

Of course, the Denver Post’s Lyn Bartels, moderating one of the debates, called the senator “Mark Uterus.”

The Denver Post editorial board’s endorsement was perhaps the most blunt:

Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.

Tags: Mark Udall , Colorado , Cory Gardner

Democrats Giving Up on Mark Udall?



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This is potentially huge. Senate Majority PAC — the SuperPAC aiming to help Democrats keep their Senate majority — is cancelling $289,000 worth of broadcast-television advertising next week. 

We’re reaching the time of year where party committees — and now, super PACs and outside groups — must prioritize and reallocate their resources to where they think those resources will do the most good. 

This isn’t the only big cancellation Senate Majority PAC has made recently:

Majority PAC began advertising in Colorado in March, trying to help keep Senator Mark Udall ahead of GOP challenger Cory Gardner. As of today, the group has spent $3 million in Colorado attacking Gardner

Udall led only one of the past five polls, and the only public poll conducted in October so far, by Fox News, found Gardner leading, 43 percent to 37 percent. 

UPDATE: And now… the Denver Post endorses Gardner, and is brutal in its assessment of Udall:

Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.

Democrats will insist that newspaper endorsements rarely move votes, and they’re right. But the endorsement inoculates Gardner on the accusation of extremism and sets him up with a broadly positive, optimistic closing message.

Tags: Mark Udall , Cory Gardner , Colorado , Senate Majority PAC

‘Mark Udall and Barack Obama Golf Together . . .’



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“Freedom Partners Action Fund” unveils a new ad hitting Senator Mark Udall; they’ll be spending $1.5 million to show this in Colorado:

Tags: Mark Udall , Barack Obama , Colorado

An Early Red Flag for Republicans



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As noted in today’s Jolt, if you look at this survey on voter contact . . . 

Democrats also have modest but still notable leads in voter contact in North Carolina and Colorado, two states that look like must-wins for Democrats to hold the Senate.

The Republicans still have a lead in the fight for the Senate, even though the Democrats appear to be out-campaigning them in more states. That’s because the Republicans have built leads in Arkansas and Louisiana, where the effectiveness of the campaigns seems fairly balanced, and Alaska, where the Begich campaign’s advantage on the ground hasn’t overtaken the Sullivan campaign’s advantage in advertisements.

It’s a red flag for Republicans. But I’d rather see a red flag in the first week of October, when there’s still a month to address it and catch up, than in the first week of November.

Also note these aren’t enormous differentials in voter contact — 6 percentage points in Colorado, 9 in North Carolina.

The same pollster has Democrat Udall up 3 and Democrat Hagan up 1 — so the voter-contact spread is bigger than the polling spread.

Tags: North Carolina , Colorado

Polling Shows AG Candidates Are Under the Radar



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Many voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, and Arizona still have no idea who their choice for attorney general will be come November.

Less than two months before Election Day, polling in each state shows anywhere between 20-28 percent of voters undecided. Candidates in those states have a lot of campaigning and convincing left to do.

In Wisconsin, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ has seen a seven point lead over Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel a month ago evaporate to a single point. The nosedive happened after stories circulated that her office reduced two felony child sexual-assault charges to a single misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge for a man who had once purchased property from Happ and her husband.

While Happ leads Schimel 39-38 in the most recent poll, 20 percent of respondents are claiming undecided.

Incumbent Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette is more comfortable in Michigan, leading Democrat Mark Totten 40.5 percent to 32.5 percent. However, an even higher number of voters than in Wisconsin – 27 percent – don’t yet know for whom they will cast their ballot.

Republican Cynthia Coffman of Colorado is outpacing her Democrat rival, Don Quick, by ten points, but nearly a quarter of voters are undecided.

In Arizona, 28 percent of independent voters – a crucial bloc for both candidates to win over – do not yet have a favorite in the race between Republican Mark Brnovich and Democrat Felecia Rotellini.

“Campaigns for attorney general get scant media attention,” Fred Barnes wrote for The Weekly Standard, “causing voters to ignore down-ballot races.”

Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School poll agrees with Barnes’ take, noting “even in a competitive AG race, the governor’s race just overshadows everything else.”

This is certainly proving to be the case in these four states where far fewer voters – 5 to 11 percent – remain undecided on their choice for governor.

Scott Will, political director for the Republican Attorneys General Association, believes disapproval of the president, and frustration with Congress all on the rise, will help his party’s AG candidates overcome a lack of voter recognition.

“Voters might not yet know much about either candidate,” Will said. “But, they do know that we cannot elect someone who would allow further intrusion of the federal government into the operation of individual states.”

Tags: Colorado , Wisconsin , Michigan , Arizona

GOP AG Chair ‘Guardedly Optimistic’ about Nov.



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Alan Wilson, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association told me in a phone interview he is feeling “very good” about GOP incumbent attorneys general holding onto their jobs this November.

Of the 25 seats Republicans currently hold nationwide, 17 are up for election this year. On Monday in Tennessee, the state supreme court appointed Republican Herbert Slatery.

Wisconsin, Colorado, and Arizona are the only red states in which the incumbent is not running for reelection. Races in those three are very competitive, said Wilson, South Carolina’s AG.

“We have a great slate of candidates in these states and believe that we will be able to hold just about every red state,” Wilson said. “We are guardedly optimistic about our chances in those three states. We have strong candidates in each that are doing very well in their campaigns.”

With Democrat AGs in Nevada, New Mexico and Arkansas not running again, Wilson is hopeful Republicans can make some inroads.

Wilson told me he is very proud Republicans have women running for AG in New Mexico and Arkansas.

“Right now, Florida is the only state with a female Republican AG,” Wilson said. “We have the opportunity to increase that number to four if Riedel, Rutledge, and Coffman are successful this November.”

Susan Riedel is running in New Mexico, Leslie Rutledge in Arkansas, and Cynthia Coffman in Colorado.

“Over the last six years, the states have lost ground to the federal government and it is the state attorneys general who stand in the delta between the people and the federal government,” Wilson said. Wilson emphasized the critical nature of these elections. “This is why we need strong rule-of-law AGs who will fight in the courts and represent [the people of their states].”

Tags: South Carolina , Wisconsin , New Mexico , Arkansas , Nevada , Colorado , Tennessee , Arizona , Florida

The Growing Focus on AGs



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It’s only just recently that so many state attorneys general have been garnering the kind of attention worthy of national headlines. The multi-state lawsuit over Obamacare set in motion a growing wave of Republican AGs taking on the federal government for what many of them argue is unprecedented overreach.

From Nevada to New York, Republicans are seizing the opportunity to turn mounting discontent with the president and members of his party, into AG election wins.

The Associated Press recently published a “5 things to watch” list in a series of states and the AGs came up in a number of them. Here are some links, highlights, and other notes:

 

Colorado:

Republican John Suthers is vacating his post as Colorado’s attorney general. The race to replace him is on between GOP nominee Cynthia Coffman and Democrat Don Quick.

The legalization of same-sex marriage has become an emerging discussion, highlighting a major difference between these two candidates.

In 2006, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution that banned same-sex marriage. Quick has said, if elected, he would not defend this part of the constitution, while Coffman vows to not allow her personal opinions interfere with her responsibility to defend of all of Colorado’s laws.

Coffman is no stranger to public service. Her first job out of law school was in the Georgia AG’s office. She then went on to work as a lawyer for the 1996 Olympic games, ultimately moving to Colorado to begin work as legislative council in the Office of the General Assembly.

She was also chief counsel to former governor Bill Owens and currently serves as deputy attorney general.

Quick has also worked in government for most of his career, serving as district attorney as well as deputy AG under Ken Salazar.

 

Arizona:

Last Tuesday, sitting Republican Attorney General Tom Horne lost in an intense battle against GOP primary challenger Mark Brnovich. Horne was better funded, but Brnovich was aided early on by outside voter-education efforts that targeted Horne.

A fairly reliable red state, Arizona’s race for AG is shaping up to be one of the more competitive in recent years, as Brnovich takes on Democrat Felecia Rotellini, who lost by only four points to Horne in 2010 for the same seat.

Because Republican Gov. Jan Brewer will not be on the ballot, Brnovich will not have the benefit of a popular incumbent governor to help with down-ticket performance.

Rotellini ran unopposed in her primary freeing her up to outraise her general-election foe.

Brnovich won the primary despite his lack of funding and now, as the party’s nominee, should have a money advantage he didn’t have before.

 

New Mexico:

New Mexico also has an open attorney general seat, which Republicans are eyeing as a potential pick-up opportunity.

Susan Riedel is the GOP candidate running against Democrat Hector Balderas. Riedel is facing an uphill climb as her opponent has far outpaced her in fundraising.

Balderas, current state auditor, came under early fire by Republicans for saying he believes President Obama is taking the “right approach” to addressing the faltering economy and claiming that New Mexicans “don’t mind paying taxes.”

As auditor, Balderas was previously under investigation by the New Mexico attorney general’s office for misuse of funds.

Riedel has the support of Gov. Susana Martinez, who enjoys high approval ratings and a “comfortable lead” over her reelection opponent.

New Mexicans know Riedel as the prosecutor in the 2002 case of “baby Brianna,” a five-month-old who died at the hands of her parents. Both parents were convicted on multiple charges.

With the support of the Latina governor in a border state, and a long prosecutorial career, Riedel may just be on the road to becoming the first Republican elected as New Mexico’s attorney general since 1987.

 

Wisconsin:

Despite a recent poll that shows Democrat Susan Happ leading Republican Brad Schimel by seven points, Schimel could surprise in the race for the next attorney general.

Both Schimel and Happ currently serve as district attorneys. However, Schimel is running away with significant endorsements from the law-enforcement community –  important for a candidate looking to become the state’s chief law enforcement official.

A key factor in this race is the role the Wisconsin AG will play in the ongoing legal battles over the controversial law known as Act 10. Gov. Walker signed the bill, which increased the contribution made by public employees to their health care and pensions, in early 2011. Republicans and conservative activists who have supported Walker’s reforms fear that if the AG’s office falls to Democrats this November, all the progress they see the state as having made as a result of the law – including turning a $3.6 billion budget deficit into a projected $1 billion surplus – will almost certainly be reversed.

The Wisconsin supreme court recently upheld the law as constitutional despite ongoing legal challenges by opponents.

The Happ campaign did not return a request for comment when contacted to confirm whether she would defend the law as AG despite her disapproval of it.

 

Nevada:

The AP actually left Nevada off its list, but the AG race here has been getting national attention. The mere fact that it’s happening in the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s state, as he works to hold onto the Senate, makes it notable.

Most press attention focuses on the “political dynasties” involved – Republican Adam Laxalt is the grandson of former Nevada governor, U.S. Senator, and Ronald Reagan confidant, Paul Laxalt, and Democrat Ross Miller, current secretary of state, is the son another former Nevada governor, Bob Miller.

Aside from their names, here in Nevada, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s imminent reelection and endorsement of Laxalt, the support Miller is sure to get from Sen. Harry Reid, and the influence outside political organizations are hoping to have on the race make this one of the most closely watched races in the state.

 – Ciara Matthews is a national political reporter for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

Tags: Colorado , Arizona , Nevada , Wisconsin , New Mexico

Intriguing New Polling Numbers in Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan



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Apparently the polling world saved up all of its intriguing results for Wednesday!

First, NBC News in Iowa . . . 

The closely watched Iowa Senate race between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley is locked in a dead heat, a new NBC News/Marist poll shows, while New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has an eight point lead over likely Republican challenger Scott Brown.

In Iowa, Ernst and Braley each have the support of 43 percent of registered voters. But both candidates remain unknown to many in the state; 14 percent of voters are undecided about who they support in the race, and about a third say they are unsure about their opinion on the candidates or have never heard of them.

NBC also finds former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown trailing incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen by 8, also among registered voters. It will be interesting to see if a likely voter screen improves either Ernst or Brown’s positions.

Then Quinnipiac, out in Colorado . . . 

Despite stronger voter optimism about Colorado’s economy than found in many states, the race for governor is tied, with 43 percent for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters give Gov. Hickenlooper a split job approval rating, with 48 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving, compared to a 52 – 39 percent approval rating in an April 23 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University.

Wait, there’s more. A Democratic polling firm in Michigan finds their preferred Senate candidate, Gary Peters, with 39.5 percent and Republican Terri Lynn Land with 37.3 percent.

Tags: Iowa , Colorado , Michigan

Hey, Could We Poll Some Likely Voters Someday Soon?



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NBC News is out with some interesting, but frustrating, new polls in Colorado and Michigan. The polls put Democrats ahead in both Senate races, which is a perfectly plausible result, but the poll only surveyed registered voters. Hey, guys, early voting starts in mid-October in Colorado. It’s mid-July. Is it too much to ask for a likely voter screen? Somehow other pollsters manage to do this!

Also note this result:

In Colorado, 52 percent of voters view the law as a bad idea — including 46 percent who hold that position strongly. That’s compared with just 37 percent who believe the law is a good idea.

Michigan voters think similarly — 50 percent see it as a bad idea, 32 percent a good idea.

“Democrats’ strength is women, and Republicans’ strength is health care,” says Marist pollster Barbara Carvalho.

President Obama also is unpopular in these two states he carried in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential races: In both, just 40 percent of registered voters approve of his job.

Tags: Polling , Colorado , Michigan

Colorado Spends $177 Million, Signs Up 17 Percent of Uninsured



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Money well spent, Colorado!

One-fifth of the employees of Colorado’s health care exchange made more than $100,000 a year in salary and bonuses — with the executive director’s pay exceeding $190,000 in 2013, exchange records show.

And nearly half of the 36 exchange employees make more than $80,000 a year.

As HealthNewsColorado notes, “Since Colorado created its own exchange in 2011, managers repeatedly have vowed to be a ‘lean and mean’ organization.” (Does proposing a hike in user fees count as “mean”?)

Colorado has spent close to $177 million in federal grants building and managing the exchange. Connect for Health Colorado says it signed up 220,441 people through March 1 — with 135,560 enrolling in Medicaid and 84,881 purchasing private insurance.

That amounts to almost 17 percent of Colorado’s estimated potential market of 501,000 people signed up for private insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and HHS report.

Tags: Colorado , Obamacare

Perhaps Last Night Will Be Hickenlooper’s Second-Toughest Night of 2014



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Tough Night, Colorado. Tough Night.

Cue a million Colorado-legalizes-marijuana-and-the-Denver-Broncos-lose-the-Super-Bowl-in-a-rout jokes.

Everybody’s telling those jokes this morning. You know what they’re not telling you?

A guy named Harry Hempy is running for governor of Colorado this year. As a member of the Green Party.

So how many votes does he get just for the “Dude, I’m voting for Hemp-y!” factor?

The incumbent is Democrat John Hickenlooper.

The crowded Republican field includes state Senator Greg Brophy, Secretary of State Scott E. Gessler, Steve House, former state senator Mike Kopp, Jim Rundberg, and former congressman Tom Tancredo.

Here’s what PPP found at the end of 2013 — feel free to take these results with enough salt to melt any snow on the ground in your area — but the general sense that Hickenlooper and Udall are vulnerable Democratic incumbents in a purple state, up against the right GOP opponent, seems accurate:

Voters are pretty split in their opinions about Hickenlooper with 45% approving of him to 48% who disapprove. But in a head to head match up with Tancredo he still leads by 8 points at 48/40. He has similar margins against Mike Kopp (45/37) and Scott Gessler (47/40). The Republican who comes closest, despite having minimal name recognition, is actually Greg Brophy at 44/43.

We’re seeing a similar story in the Colorado Senate race. Ken Buck proved to be a very poor candidate against Michael Bennet in 2010 and lost a contest Republicans were generally expected to win all year long. And now GOP voters are ready to run him again — 45% say he’s their choice for Senate candidate to just 8% for Randy Baumgardner, 7% for Amy Stephens, and 2% or less for the others.

Voters have mixed feelings about Mark Udall — 40% approve of him and 41% disapprove. But thanks to the weak field opposing him he still leads by anywhere from 4 to 7 points against his potential Republican foes. It’s 46/42 over Buck, 47/40 over Baumgardner, and 44/37 over both Hill and Stephens.

Well, it’s not like the governor tried to tie himself to the Broncos in their suddenly interrupted magical year . . . 

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking Super Bowl hoopla to new heights.

He announced Wednesday he’s temporarily renaming Colorado’s highest mountains for each member of the Denver Broncos. The state is home to more than 50 mountains over 14,000 feet, called “14-ers” by locals.

Finally, your tax dollars at work, Coloradans:

Two high-profile fans will be in the crowd watching the Super Bowl this Sunday — Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, The Denver Post reports. Hickenlooper is paying for the trip east with his son, Teddy, while two staffers [his chief of staff and senior media adviser] will have their airfare covered by the state.

Tags: John Hickenlooper , Colorado , Greg Brophy , Scott Gessler , Mike Kopp , Jim Rundberg , Tom Tancredo

Colorado Obamacare Administrator Wants Bonus, Raise



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So, to sum up the morning’s developments in Obamacare, it may end up shutting down firehouses, the website isn’t fixed and folks may think they’re signed up for Medicaid when they aren’t, and about 5 million people whose plans were canceled are finding they hate the new options. Here’s one Washington-state resident realizing just how bad his new deal under Obamacare will be:

Obama’s claim that those with unsubsidized individual policies will get a better deal is false, and we need a long-term fix.

I am in that 5 percent. Checking the Washington state health-insurance exchange, I found I am among millions who are getting a much worse deal — much higher premiums with higher deductibles and less choice of doctors, and ineligible for the Affordable Care Act tax credit.

My current premium is $278 per month with a $3,500 deductible. My Blue Shield insurer is canceling this policy and not offering any policies on the state health-insurance exchange. The least expensive off-exchange policy it now offers is $545 per month, roughly double what I pay now, with a $5,000 in-network and $10,000 out-of-network deductible.

On the Washington state exchange, the least expensive option, in the bronze category, is $433 per month, a 56 percent increase. But this policy is from a no-name insurer that few of my providers will accept. The only Blue Cross and Blue Shield provider on the exchange offers a bronze policy for $492 per month — a 77 percent increase.

What does the extra $214 per month offer? A lot less than I have now. My deductible would rise to $5,000 for in-network providers and $10,000 for out-of-network providers, and the number of providers in network would decline.

. . . and here’s the cherry on top, the perfect bit of news to close out the week:

The head of Colorado’s state health exchange has asked for an end-of-the-year raise and bonus even though the website has enrolled fewer than half the people who were supposed to purchase health insurance through December.

Other than that, smooth sailing for Obamacare.

Tags: Obamacare , Colorado

Colorado Democrat Resigns to Avoid Recall Fight



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Remember that third recall effort out in Coloradotargeting two-term Democrat Evie Hudak? It is now moot.

State Sen. Evie Hudak has decided to resign rather than risk facing a recall election that, should she lose, would flip control of the senate to Republicans, FOX31 Denver was first to report Wednesday.

Later Wednesday morning, Hudak made her resignation letter public.

“In the interest of preserving the progress made over the last year, I am resigning as State Senator for District 19, effective immediately,” Hudak wrote.

By resigning before the signatures are turned in, she assures that a Democratic vacancy committee will appoint her replacement, keeping the seat — and the senate — in the party’s hands, at least through November, when her successor will be forced to win reelection.

While the Republicans won’t have an opportunity to win the seat until Election Day, Hudak’s departure is a welcome development. You may recall Hudak telling a rape victim that her statistics were incorrect during a hearing on Colorado’s gun laws. The Denver Post later found that Hudak’s statistics were incorrect, declaring, “the episode made Hudak look like she cared not a whit for a rape victim,” and Hudak apologized for “insensitivity.”

Tags: Evie Hudak , Colorado , Gun Control

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