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 voteforbreakfast.com.

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!