No Snappy Headline

Today is national letter of intent signing day in college football. Political Gravy doesn’t have any letters. Or intent.

Scott McInnis doesn’t want to battle Bob Schaffer in a Republican primary for Senate in 2008, which makes sense. As Mike Saccone of The Grand Junction Sentinel reports, McInnis is taking a shot at keeping Schaffer out of the race:

A spokeswoman for presumed 2008 U.S. Senate candidate Scott McInnis said Tuesday the former congressman hopes to avoid a messy, divisive primary in the vein of 2006’s primary battle between Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman.

Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the former Grand Junction congressman, said McInnis was hoping the party will unite behind his candidacy. “The concern is that it would cause further damage to the party,” Smith said of a primary. “We want to learn from the past couple election cycles.”

McInnis, who has all but formally announced his candidacy, could find himself pitted against former Front Range Congressman Bob Schaffer, who told the Fort Collins Coloradoan last month that he has not ruled out a run for retiring Sen. Wayne Allard’s seat.

Schaffer, who ran for retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s seat in 2004, lost to beer magnate Pete Coors in the Republican primary. Smith said the McInnis camp is “working with party activists” to ensure that there will not be a divisive primary for Republicans while the Democratic candidate, presumably Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., sits on the sidelines unscathed like Gov. Bill Ritter did last year.

A gubernatorial primary may have hurt Republicans in 2006, but you know what really hurt the GOP’s chances of winning the race? Bob Beauprez. His campaign wouldn’t have won a student council race.

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Governor Bill Ritter signed an education bill yesterday that will help parents track the progress of their children in school. As Jennifer Brown of The Denver Post reports:

Gov. Bill Ritter signed Tuesday what many are calling the most meaningful education legislation of the year – a system to better track students’ academic progress on state tests.

The new law, only the second Ritter has signed, sets up a system to measure individual yearly progress, a more sophisticated way to track achievement than the current snapshot of a school’s scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP, tests.

Ritter said House Bill 1048 is the “first essential step” toward his goal of cutting the drop-out rate in half within 10 years. The new system will show teachers and parents how much a child improves on state CSAP test each year, giving a comprehensive view of a school’s ability to help kids progress. The current method lets them see only how one third-grade class performed on the CSAP compared with the next year’s third- graders, for example.

“It’s just about progress,” Ritter said. “Teachers will finally be able to make informed decisions based on relevant data.”

Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, said parents will be able to ask, “Is my child making real progress in a year? Do we need to work harder?”

Implementing the legislation is not expected to cost the state any additional money.

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Democrat Jared Polis has been taking his share of lumps in the press for the furor over Amendment 41, and he finally spoke out to Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News in a front-page story today:

Wealthy entrepreneur Jared Polis is the legislature’s favorite whipping boy these days because of problems with Amendment 41, even though a number of politicians last year supported the measure.

Polis didn’t write the ethics bill, but he helped get the measure on the ballot and passed. He now admits it is poorly worded, and lawmakers are trying to figure out how to address the unintended consequences, such as a provision that may make children of public employees ineligible for certain college scholarships.

Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, now calls Amendment 41 “Jared’s Law.”

“If he’s trying to make my name synonymous with clean government, that’s certainly a cross that I can bear,” Polis said Tuesday.

Amendment 41, which was crafted by Denver attorney Martha Tierney and Pete Maysmith of the public-interest group Colorado Common Cause received support from a number of candidates last year…

…The legislature now is grappling with how to implement Amendment 41. A coalition including Polis and several nonprofits has hired public relations people, attorneys, lobbyists and even a pollster to help push for legislation to address the unintended consequences of the amendment.

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Here’s a quick list of what’s going on today at the state capitol:

  • State and federal forestry officials were scheduled to brief the House and Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees on Colorado’s forest health this morning, before the House committee considers House Bill 1130, which would create a forest-restoration pilot program.
  • At 1:30 p.m. the House Judiciary Committee considers eight bills on subjects ranging from drunk driving to restorative justice.

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    Leaders in the U.S. Senate battled it out again over Iraq yesterday. As The Washington Post reports:

    Senate leaders squabbled yesterday over how to consider resolutions opposing President Bush’s plan for more troops in Iraq, but the quarrel did not stop lawmakers from launching an informal debate on the chamber floor over the war.

    “The only people who believe there is a workable military solution for the conflict in Iraq is the Bush administration,” said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who advocates requiring Bush to complete the removal of American troops from Iraq within a year.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Democrats disingenuous for declaring support for U.S. troops while denouncing their commander in chief’s strategy. Troops serving in Iraq “won’t buy it,” McCain said. “A vote of no confidence is a vote of no confidence.”

    Senate leaders made little progress yesterday toward agreeing on the terms of votes on a series of nonbinding resolutions, each of which addresses Bush’s decision to deploy an additional 21,500 troops.

    “This is all a game to divert attention from the fact that we have before us now an issue that the American people want us to address,” Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor, nodding across the aisle to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

    “What we’re asking by any standard is reasonable,” answered McConnell. “It is not too late to have the debate this week.”

    Is there a better word in the English language than “squabble?”

    Meanwhile, Sen. Ken Salazar ripped Republican Senators for blocking discussion on President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq. As The Denver Post reports:

    Sen. Ken Salazar took to the television airwaves Tuesday night to criticize Republicans for blocking the Senate vote on a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s plan to dispatch more troops to Iraq.

    “The Republican minority has made a decision here, they don’t want to have a vote on the fundamental question. … Should there be an escalation of troops into Baghdad?” the Colorado Democrat said in an appearance on “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” on PBS. “They know that that vote would end up with a majority vote saying that the president is headed in the wrong direction.”

    Salazar also spoke on “Hardball With Chris Matthews” on MSNBC, facing off against Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. Later he appeared on “NewsHour,” following Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

    Salazar opposes Bush’s plan and sided with some Senate Republicans and Democrats to craft an alternative strategy. He is the co-author of a nonbinding, bipartisan resolution that would put the Senate on record as opposed to Bush’s plans to commit a “surge” of 21,500 combat troops and thousands of additional support personnel to Iraq.

    Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., joined other Republicans in blocking a vote on that resolution. He wanted a vote on a resolution put forward by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., that would have put senators on record about supporting funding for troops.

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    Salazar and his older brother, Rep. John Salazar (bet you didn’t know John was older), spoke out yesterday against President Bush’s health care plan. As Dale Rodebaugh of The Durango Herald reports:

    The response of Colorado legislators on Tuesday to President Bush’s proposed $101 billion reduction in Medicare and Medicaid funding contrasted sharply.

    Southwest Colorado residents face a crisis as early as March 31 when a major health-care agency closes its clinic in Durango, said U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa. This is not the time to play games, he said.

    Sen. Wayne Allard was more optimistic, saying that threatened funding cuts in the past have been restored.

    Sen. Ken Salazar said Medicare and Medicaid cuts are part of Bush’s “just plain wrong-headed budget.”

    In his budget for fiscal 2008 that was released Monday, the president wants to cut more than $75 billion from Medicare and more than $26 billion from Medicaid in the year starting Oct. 1. In fiscal 2006, the last year for which complete figures are available, spending on Medicare was $382 billion, and on Medicaid $180 billion.

    The Medicare/Medicaid reductions for fiscal 2008 would be made by lowering reimbursements to health-care providers, which providers say are bare-boned already. Also, Medicare beneficiaries would pay more – based on income – for their share of prescription drugs and doctor services.

    “The cuts to health care only hurt rural families in Colorado,” John Salazar said in a statement. “It’s difficult enough to encourage doctors and health-care providers to set up shop outside the city, but keeping them there is the bigger challenge.”

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    Denver voters last week approved a measure to disband the laughably incompetent three-person Denver Election Commission in favor of a single elected County Clerk and Recorder who will hopefully be less incompetent. Believe it or not, several people actually want the job, as the Rocky Mountain News reports:

    Stephanie O’Malley, the woman appointed by Mayor John Hickenlooper to serve as interim Denver clerk and recorder, has filed papers to run for the office in May.

    The daughter of former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, O’Malley had been head of the city’s excise and license office before she was appointed by Hickenlooper to replace Wayne Vaden as clerk and recorder.

    Sharron Klein and Don Henderson have already announced their plans to run for the seat as well.


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    The media blog HowardOwens.com says that Colorado Confidential is among the new breed of local media sites that are challenging the mainstream media for readers:

    Self-published, community sites are going to continue to grow and the good ones will get traction. We’re going to see more sites like the New Haven Independent and Colorado Confidential. These deep-in-the-community sites have a real chance to resonate with local audiences.

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    There is a political machine in Routt County, apparently. That’s what The Steamboat Pilot says, anyway:

    Local political machinery is winding up again.

    After a three-month hiatus following November’s election, Routt County Democrats and Republicans get back to business this week, holding meetings to elect officers who will lead the county parties for the next two years.

    The Routt County Republican Central Committee meets at noon today in the Routt County Courthouse Annex, while the Routt County Democratic Party meets at 6 p.m. today in the Ridge Road home of Kathy and Bill Moser.
    Both parties likely will see shake-ups in leadership.

    That’s all the Gravy there is for today.

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    Jason Bane

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