A Hot Cup of Gravy on a Cold Day

It’s colder than a penguin’s earlobes out there. Good thing Gravy is warm…

Democrat Bill Ritter gave his first State of the State speech yesterday, and as Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports, the focus was on energy:

Gov. Bill Ritter challenged Coloradans Thursday to think differently about how they power their cars, heat their homes and educate their children.

The new governor, a Democrat from Denver, delivered his first State of the State address in the House chambers before lawmakers, other elected officials, family, friends and Capitol regulars.

“We will invest to save in the long run,” Ritter said, in what likely will become the mantra of his administration.

A good education cuts down on crime, reduces prison populations and stimulates the economy. Health care for all Coloradans is costly, but not nearly as expensive as treating the uninsured – and at the expense of higher education.


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Denver officials celebrated yesterday at the news that the city was chosen to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. As George Merritt and Elizabeth Aguilera of The Denver Post reports:

Over a private lunch at the Capital Grille and with champagne in hand, members of the host committee on Thursday toasted landing the 2008 Democratic National Convention as the “biggest thing to ever come to Denver.”

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s been worth every single step,” said City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, president of the committee. “In the West, it is our time. We have proven we can compete.”

Wedgeworth is largely credited with being the first to push for bringing the convention to Denver. She broached the idea with Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean more than a year ago.

“I said if we can host Pope John Paul II and the NBA All-Star game, I think we can do this,” she recalled. “He said it was interesting.”

Chris Gates, one of four co-chairs of the host committee, took part in a Colorado Confidential Q&A yesterday to discuss the process of landing the big party in Denver.


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Even some Republicans were happy at the news that Denver had won the right to host the 2008 convention. Well, some of them anyway:

“I just came to cheer on the team. We’re all Democrats now.”

Republican Bob Schaffer member of the state Board of Education, cheerfully declining to comment on whether anything in Ritter’s speech concerned him

“No we’re not!”

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, horrified at Schaffer’s playful comment

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If you think it would be cool to be a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, particularly since you can save yourself some travel costs, you may be right. But it’s going to be really hard to get there, as Leslie Robinson reports right here at Colorado Confidential.


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Denver Rep. Diana DeGette’s bill to relax limits on stem cell research easily passed through the House yesterday, as The Washington Post reports:

The House yesterday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would loosen the restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research imposed by President Bush in 2001, inaugurating the second such assault on the administration’s stem cell policy in as many years.

Thirty-seven Republicans joined 216 Democrats to pass the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would allow federal funding of research on stem cells from embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics.

The 253 to 174 vote fell 37 votes short of what it would take to override the veto that Bush yesterday promised would be forthcoming, assuming the Senate passes the same bill, as expected. Bush vetoed the legislation after it passed last year.

But buoyant research proponents said they still have several options and promised to persevere until the legislation becomes law.

“While it’s not enough to override a veto, it’s enough to show we have tremendous momentum,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who led the House effort with Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.).

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Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar talked in his weekly telephone press conference yesterday about the Democratic resurgence in the West. As Margie Wood of The Pueblo Chieftain reports:

In his weekly telephone press conference, Salazar said Colorado only a few years ago was viewed as a Republican bastion. (In fact, before he was elected to the Senate in 2004, he was the only Democrat holding statewide office.)

Now, with Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and both houses of the Legislature held by Democratic majorities, “that has dramatically changed,” Salazar said. “I think people from other states are looking at Colorado and Montana as lodestars” of Democratic recovery. We have been able to move from a very conservative state to one that is more in the middle.”

To do that, he said, Colorado Democrats “pushed back” against one-issue partisans who said Ritter couldn’t be elected because of his anti-abortion views.

“We have gone out and recruited quality candidates who are pragmatic, and we have pushed back to become a big-tent party,” he said.

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President Bush announced plans on Wednesday to send more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq, and the proposal has been skewered by Democrats and Republicans alike. As The Boston Globe reports:

As top Bush administration officials fanned out across Capitol Hill yesterday to defend President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq, leading congressional Democrats and some Republicans made it clear that they aim to force the White House to abandon its plans.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates received cool receptions at congressional hearings from lawmakers, including some Republicans who have previously been steadfast supporters of the president’s war policies.

Democrats said they would offer a resolution in the House and Senate next week to put Congress on record as being in opposition to the president’s plans. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, predicted that enough Republicans would join Democrats to overcome a GOP-led filibuster of the resolution, and said that passing it would leave the president little choice but to change course.

“I think it’s the biggest foreign policy blunder ever,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said of the troop “surge” announced by Bush. “The president is entitled to mistakes. But how many? I think it’s pretty clear we don’t need another mistake.”

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Secretary of State Mike Coffman vowed yesterday not to pull a Gigi Dennis and attempt to enact election laws that benefit one political party at the expense of another. Ann Imse of the Rocky Mountain News has the goods:

Coffman, a former state legislator, was responding to questions from the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Thursday concerning former Secretary of State Gigi Dennis’ controversial election rules handed down last August, just days before the primary election.

One of Dennis’ rules – requiring unions and other “small donor groups” to obtain members’ permission to use their dues in political campaigns – halted hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring into Democratic hands. Unions sued and won an appeals court ruling that blocked enforcement of the rule.

Coffman said of his fellow Republican’s rules: “I think they were partisan in nature, and it’s my goal to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
He added that even the perception that a rule is partisan would be a problem for him.

He also promised that his rules would implement laws, not make law. In any case where he needs a decision of policy, “I would take the issue to the General Assembly, and it will be voted up or down.”

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Jason Bane

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