Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ali Hasan's ode to Michael Jackson

Ali Hasan is still considering whether to run for state treasurer.

But when it comes to the King of Pop, Hasan considers that job permanently filled.

"Michael Jackson. My dearest King, our American hero – never leave us," Hasan wrote in a heartfelt tribute to the pop singer and icon, who died June 25.

In the essay, published in, a news and commentary site about the Middle East, Hasan said that he "will always believe that Michael Jackson was innocent of all molestation charges pursued against him.

Instead, Hasan said Jackson will always be remembered for his charity and hope for the future.

"It was always fitting that Michael’s best tribute would come from a fellow American hero, President Ronald Reagan. While President Reagan fought to end the Evil Empire, despite international paranoia that our good country would eventually succumb to the USSR’s nuclear invasion, it was Michael that never let us fear."


Mile High Politics is back!

Hey everyone, after a long, relaxing vacation, I'm back and ready to get back to Colorado politics!

So what'd I miss the past few days?


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Penry will announce gubernatorial decision Saturday

Colorado Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry will announce his gubernatorial plans this Saturday in Grand Junction, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel.

Though Penry (R-Grand Junction) has stayed mum up until now about speculation that he would seek to topple incumbent Gov. Bill Ritter (D), several Republicans have said over the past few weeks that Penry will enter the gubernatorial race and has been looking to hire staff.

If Penry enters the gubernatorial race, it will set up a potentially contentious GOP primary between him and his former boss, ex-U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Grand Junction). Evergreen businessman Dan Maes has also filed to run for governor as a Republican.

Penry will announce his plans at 9 a.m. Saturday in front of the old Mesa County Courthouse, according to the Sentinel.


The future of Mile High Politics

Hey everyone, thanks as always for reading Mile High Politics -- hello especially to readers of the Rocky Mountain Independent!

I just wanted to give everyone a heads-up that things will really start to take off at Mile High Politics beginning next week. That's when I return from vacation (from unseasonably cool Chicago) and the entire site will get a much-needed makeover.

I'll certainly be posting in the meantime, but make sure to check out and bookmark Mile High Politics starting next week! As always, feedback and comments via e-mail are always appreciated.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Guzman enters SD-34 race

Lucia Guzman, executive director of the City and County of Denver's Human Rights and Community Relations office, filed Thursday to run for state Senate District 34, setting up a potentially contentious Democratic primary in Denver next year.

Guzman is the second Democrat to formally enter the race to succeed outgoing state Sen. Paula Sandoval (D-Denver), who is term-limited: outgoing state Rep. Joel Judd (D-Denver) filed for SD-34 late last year. State Rep. Jerry Frangas (D-Denver) is also considering entering the race.

A former pastor at Berkeley United Methodist Church in northwest Denver, in 1994 Guzman became the first woman and Mexican American to head the Colorado Council of Churches. She also served as vice-president of the Denver Board of Education from 1999 until 2003.

Guzman will publicly launch her campaign July 9.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Isgar gets USDA appointment

State Sen. Jim Isgar (D-Hesperus) has been appointed the USDA's state director of rural development, Isgar told Mile High Politics on Tuesday.

With his appointment, a vacancy committee will be convened to fill the seat for the last year of Isgar's term (term limits prevent Isgar from running for re-election in 2010). Isgar said he'll likely start his new Lakewood-based job around July 20, and resign his senate seat around that time.

Isgar said as state director of rural development, he'll work to publicize federal grants and programs available for rural Coloradans.

"It's a good fit for me with my background, and it's just a real opportunity with the new administration coming in -- these opportunities don't come along that often," Isgar said. "I'm going to miss being in the Senate -- that's been a great opportunity also -- but this opportunity is available now. I'm just honored to be considered for the appointment."


Friday, June 26, 2009

What Colorado's legislature is missing out on

I'm not saying the Colorado legislature's not entertaining, but I can't see them inviting a rapper to rhyme about Halle Berry's physical attributes on the House floor.

Louisiana's House of Representatives, however, clearly doesn't have any qualms.


Another staff shuffle at the Colorado Independent


The Colorado Independent underwent their third major staff change in the past seven months Wednesday, as managing editor Wendy Norris is leaving to take a news fellowship.

John Tomasic, who joined the Independent earlier this year, will take over July 1 as interim managing editor for Norris, who accepted a news entrepreneur fellowship with the Knight Digital Media Center to examine sustainable online news.

Norris was the only remaining founding member of the progressive news site, which was launched in 2006 as Colorado Confidential. Her departure leaves the Independent with a staff of three: Tomasic, Ernest Luning, and David O. Williams.

The Independent has been hemorrhaging staffers since last November, when six staff writers were laid off. Cara DeGette, the former editor of the site, left last January to become managing editor of Law Week Colorado.

By coincidence, Norris' departure comes just days after another progressive news site, the Huffington Post, announced it would open a Denver-centric site in late summer/early fall.

*CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this article stated, in error, that Tomasic joined the Colorado Independent last year. The article also wrongly insinuated that Norris would leave for California to take the fellowship: she will remain in Colorado. Also, the article stated in error that Norris' announcement came on Tuesday; it came on Wednesday.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

West Point grad looking to turn HD-1 red

Danny Stroud isn't running for the state legislature to be in politics. He's running to be a legislator.

"Nobody wants to go into a meat grinder. And I want to make a difference – I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to be in a positon where I can do something," said Stroud, who will be running as a Republican for Jeanne Labuda's seat in House District 1.

While HD-1 is probably the most GOP-friendly House district in Denver, the district still leans Democratic. But Stroud, a Denver business consultant, sees red where many others might see blue.

"The citizens are fundamentally conservative in my district and in a lot of the state," Stroud said. "And the Republican Party hasn’t done a very good job over the last eight or nine years keeping the message clean. And people are confused about things."

Stroud, 56, hasn't run for political office before, though in the 1980s he served on the Contra Costa County Mental Health Commission in California.

But as a former Army officer who graduated from West Point, Stroud said he's long kept an eye towards public service.

An Oregon native,Danny -- his given name, not a nickname -- moved to Colorado in the early 1990s. A bachelor, he has two children around college age. He said he'll likely formally launch his campaign around September.

Asked which issues he plans to focus on, Stroud said his platform will evolve as the campaign moves ahead.

Stroud, who said he hasn't heard of any GOP challengers, will likely have a tough time against Labuda, who despite some Democratic concerns last year won with 59 percent of the vote.

But Stroud says if he does lose, it won't be for lack of hard work.

"I’m a tenacious son of a gun, and nobody’s gonna beat me," he said. "I may not be successful in everything I do, but I sure don’t give up."


Monday, June 22, 2009

Can the GOP pick up a state House seat in Denver next year?

No Republicans have been elected to the state legislature from Denver this decade. But despite the seemingly long odds, Republicans will be looking at a couple potential pickups next year.

In particular, Colorado House Districts 1 and 3 in south Denver will be on the GOP’s radar screen next year, said Denver Republican Party Chair Ryan Call.

Of course, labeling the most GOP-friendly legislative districts in Denver seems tantamount to picking which cast members of “The Hills” are most likely to win an Academy Award. On election day 2008, registered Democrats easily outnumbered registered Republicans in every House district in Denver -- including Districts 1 and 3.

But House Districts 1 and 3 include neighborhoods in southwest Denver and Arapahoe County that are traditionally less liberal than in areas closer to the center of the city -- more suburban, with a comparatively older population. And as Call points out, the incumbent Democrats in HD-1 and HD-3 -- Jeanne Labuda and Daniel Kagan, respectively -- are both relatively weak.

As for who the GOP will field in the two districts, business consultant Danny Stroud tells Mile High Politics that he intends to run against Labuda in District 1. Paul Linton, who lost the 2008 HD-3 race to then-state Rep. Anne McGihon, is considered likely to run again in the district. (Linton didn't return a call seeking comment).

For their part, Denver Democrats aren’t dismissing the GOP’s chances in either district.

Last year, many Democrats were worried about a Republican upset in District 1. Labuda dashed those concerns on election day with 59 percent of the vote over Republican Tom Thomason, but similar concerns could pop up next year.

And in District 3, Kagan, shortly before he was appointed to the seat in March, voiced concerns that the district could go red next year.

“There was a lot of talk at the time of my appointment of House District 3 being a safe seat,” Kagan told Mile High Politics late last week. “And I deny it then and I continue to deny that there is any such thing as a safe seat.”

But Denver Democratic Party Chair Cindy Lowery said while "it's always good to be concerned," she voiced confidence that Democrats would hold on to both districts.

"I don't hear that there's a lot of concern about Labuda -- at least from what I'm hearing," Lowery said. "(And) I think that Daniel is a pretty safe Democrat."


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Big List: 2010 State House Candidates


Here's a list of the declared and rumored candidates for the Colorado House in 2010.

I'll be constantly adding candidates to the list as they emerge, so check back often. If you don't see a candidate's name on the list, please e-mail me and I'll add it.

*-Has not formally declared candidacy


The Big List: 2010 State Senate Candidates


Here's a list of the declared and rumored candidates for the Colorado Senate in 2010.

I'll be constantly adding candidates to the list as they emerge, so check back often. If you don't see a candidate's name on the list, please e-mail me and I'll add it.

*-Has not formally declared candidacy


Republican interest stirring for Kester's Senate seat

With state Sen. Ken Kester (R) term-limited next year, Republicans are starting to line up to take his place.
According to Face The State, Fremont County GOP Chair Kevin Grantham has filed to succeed Kester in Senate District 2, in the southeast corner of Colorado.

Crowley County Commissioner Matt Heimreich is also rumored to be interested in the seat, according to the conservative news Web site.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Colorado political look-alikes

Looking around the Colorado political scene, there are some who look awfully familiar. Click on "more" to see some potential long-lost twins of Colorado politicians.

Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry and former Denver Broncos safety John Lynch

Penry has said he’s “practically twins” with Lynch. That includes a football past: Penry was a star quarterback at Mesa State College.

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo and "actor" Pauly Shore

These two pictures don't really do the resemblance justice: much better evidence can be found on the blog

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cleve Tidwell and Vice President Joe Biden

While Tidwell’s combed-back white hairstyle is awfully similar to that of Biden, Tidwell's hair hasn’t yet been the subject of media speculation.

State Representative Carole Murray and Steve Carell’s manager in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”

Unfortunately, the resemblance between Steve Carell and state Sen. Ken Kester is not nearly as pronounced.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Terry from the comic strip “Terry and the Pirates.”

Who thinks Bennet would look badass in a leather bomber jacket? Nah, I don't think so, either.

Who am I missing? Most Colorado pols listed above happen to be Republicans, so let me know of some Democratic look-alikes to make this a more bipartisan list.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And We're Back!

After a break of a few months to blog for 5280 Magazine, Mile High Politics is back!

Colorado is on the brink of summer (though it might be hard to tell with all the rain in Denver for the past month). And this summer is the time that all the big backroom decisions are being made for 2010 -- who's going to run, who's going to work for whom, and who's going to cajole and pressure the competition out.

And the stakes are pretty high. Next year's winners will help oversee legislative redistricting -- and if Democrats stay in control, they'll more than likely redraw the map to help cement their startling gains in Colorado over the past few years. Plus, both Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet are -- at least on paper -- fairly vulnerable.

So thanks for reading, and check back often for the latest non-partisan coverage of Colorado politics!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Charles Ashby latest Statehouse press corps casualty

The Pueblo Chieftain's Charles Ashby on Tuesday became the latest Colorado Capitol reporter to be laid off.

Ashby was the de facto dean of the Statehouse press corps and a member of the Colorado Capitol Press Association Executive Board. He had covered Colorado politics and government for several years with the Chieftain and the Durango Herald.

He was laid off on Tuesday morning prior to President Barack Obama's inaugural address.

Ashby was better-sourced and was more well-known in state government than perhaps any other Statehouse reporter. He broke several major stories last year alone, including a explosive statement from Republican presidential nominee John McCain that he wanted to renegotiate the 1922 Colorado River Compact.

Ashby is only the latest Colorado political reporter to be laid off. Since the 2008 general election, reporters at the Colorado Independent and have also been laid off. The Rocky Mountain News is also in danger of closing its doors altogether.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Chambers, Gholston in running for state GOP vice-chair

While Dick Wadhams seems assured to be re-elected Colorado Republican Party chair during party elections next month, the election for vice-chair appears to be competitive.

Republican activist Leondray Gholston and Arapahoe County GOP Chair Nathan Chambers are both seeking to be elected vice-chair, according to state GOP general counsel Ryan Call.

Chambers, a Denver attorney, is well-known among Front Range Republicans as Arapahoe County GOP chair. He's married to 18th Judicial District Attorney Carole Chambers.

By comparison, Gholston is a relative unknown, though he turned some heads last summer at the state GOP convention when he delivered a rousing speech as a candidate for RNC committeeman. Gholston came in second in that race to former interim state treasurer Mark Hillman, though he shocked many by winning more votes than state Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs).

Colorado Republican Party elections will be held in March.


Mile High Politics is back!

My deepest apologies for the three-week hiatus from Mile High Politics. A number of factors -- holiday vacation, lack of Internet, and the job search, among other things -- kept me away from this blog until now.

I'm sure I've lost a significant portion of my readership because of the downtime, but I'll be posting on Colorado politics from now on (at least until I'm again paid to cover Colorado politics).

Thanks, as always, for reading! Don't forget to keep those comments and tips coming!



Call officially in the running for Denver GOP chair

Colorado Republican Party general counsel Ryan Call officially announced to Mile High Politics on Monday that he's running for chair of the Denver Republican Party.

Call said in talking with precinct captains, he didn't hear of anyone planning to run against him during Denver GOP elections on Feb. 7. But he added that he couldn't count out a last-minute challenge "from left field" by a Ron Paul supporter or another candidate.

The Denver Republicans will elect party officers Feb. 7 at Hill Middle School, 451 Clermont St. Registration will start at 9 a.m., he said; the meeting will convene at 10 a.m.

In addition to party chair, the Denver GOP will also elect three vice-chairs and a secretary. Until now, the Denver GOP has only elected a single vice-chair.

Two candidates for vice-chair will be blogger/2008 HD-6 GOP nominee Joshua Sharf and Restaurant Kevin Taylor general manager Toby Hurd, according to Call.

Call said a member of a local college Republicans group will likely be tabbed for a vice-chairmanship or party secretary.

Call, 33, said the number of young people seeking party leadership positions was not a coincidence.

"We recognize that if we don’t reach out to and don’t provide leadership positions to that next generation, the party will struggle," Call said.

As chair, Call said he wants the party to focus on increasing voter turnout in Denver for the 2010 Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and governor.

Call also said he wants to challenge every Denver state legislative race in 2010, and said that Republicans could pick up a couple victories in the traditionally Democratic city.

"We want to make the Democrats work for it," Call said. "With the right kind of candidate, right kind of message, we can pick up one and maybe even a couple of seats in Denver."

Call said he'll remain state party counsel if he's elected Denver GOP chair.