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Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 03:10 PM PDT

When A Blogger Runs For Office

by njcronk

I've been blogging on Daily Kos and a number of other progressive national blogs (HuffPo, FireDog Lake, CO Pols, etc.) for about ten years. Hundreds of thousands of words later, I thought I pretty much knew my positions about everything under the son, what makes legislators tick, and how things work on campaigns. After all, not only did I exchange opinions with others like preschoolers share germs, but I testified at the State Capitol a number of times, volunteered on countless campaigns, and hung out at more kickoff parties than I could count.

And then I was drafted to run for office by the Dems to fill a vacancy 3/4 of the way through an election cycle. "Heck" I figured, "I've seen 100 other people run for office. I can do that."(Imagine loud record screeching sound here.) Just add water, right?

"Hold onto your hat" is what they should have told me. Here's what else they didn't tell me:

You will have a much greater ability to raise money than you ever thought imaginable. ($20K in a couple of months -- feelin' pretty good about that!)

You will get less sleep than when you had a new baby in the house.

However difficult you thought it was to run for office, it's more so.

You'll start to be honest with yourself about things you did when you were young, and fights you had in the third grade, because you know if you don't, someone else will.

However many hours you thought people spent campaigning, multiply it by 10.

You'll learn plants die without water.

Your family will learn what they can do for themselves that you used to do for them. ...And you'll let them.

You will give your personal cell phone out to hundreds of total strangers without batting an eye.

You will actually enjoy knocking on doors and getting to know people every day.

You'll start listening to people you never listened to before... and realize they are not as crazy as they sound on facebook memes.

You'll hear some really, really, really sad stories, and it will make you mad as Hell.

You'll become very intimate with the ActBlue website and check it before you go to the bathroom each morning.

Those cute little expressions your Grandpa told you when you were a kid will start falling out of your mouth like teeth after a prize fight.

You'll start to understand political horse trading, but you still won't like it.

Suddenly, every crack in the sidewalk, every traffic jam, every news story will make you think, "Who can I call?"

You will have many meetings at Starbucks, even though you prefer small local Mom-n-Pop shops. There's a reason there is one at every corner.

You will learn to love google docs.

You'll learn a ton about yourself... every day.

You'll suddenly be aware of every word, every sentence, every joke, and every expression, and wonder if it will be used against your family someday.

You'll suddenly realize your mom was right -- you don't know everything.

You'll know where every union printer is in town.

You will find your ability to be yelled at by another voter is much stronger than you think.

At the same time, the thank yous and kind words will continue to melt your heart, and you will feel like you make a difference.

You will fall in love with your constituents -- all of them, even the grouchy ones who won't vote for you -- because they are your constituents, even though you haven't won yet.

You'll be shocked at what plastic political signs cost. And mailers. And door hangers. And palm cards. And stamps...

You'll think you discovered robocalls.

You'll learn to speak really, really fast before the "beep".

You'll learn who your friends are.

You'll learn who your friends really are, and their generosity, their support, their commitment to you, and their belief in you will blow you away like nothing ever has before.

You won't be above asking your progressive blogger friends for money to help you win!

You'll know you'll have their back when they do the same!

You'll have deep respect for anyone else who ever ran for public office... regardless of political affiliation!

Discuss

Responding to growing reports of sexual abuse and harassment within the United States military, U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) announced today he will take a leading role by working on both sides of the aisle to address sexual violence in the armed services. He outlined his plan to find solutions, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect victims from retaliation.

His plans include co-sponsoring "a number of bills" on the issue, and pushing for a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act. One of the bills he intends to support is the Murray-Ayotte Sexual Assault bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation from Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), which will establish a special military counsel to provide legal advice and assistance requested by any military sexual assault victim. The law will require cases to be automatically referred to a general or admiral to ensure greater oversight. The bill will allow cases to be shifted outside of the chain of command if an appropriate investigation does not occur in a timely fashion.

Udall will also co-sponsor a bill from Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) which would require a comprehensive review of the level of training by Department of Defense personnel regarding sexual violence. The bill will call for formal minimum levels of training, qualifications and experience in the areas of sexual assault prevention and response. Senator Udall has previously worked in this area; in 2012's National Defense Authorization Act, he supported the establishment of a panel of experts that will provide recommendations for reducing the numbers of sexual assault within the military.

On his announcement, Udall stated,

"As a father, a Coloradan and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am angered by the failure to stem the tide of sexual assaults in the military. The good order and discipline of our armed forces and the safety of our troops is being threatened from within. We need to make clear that there will be zero tolerance for these horrific crimes and the people who commit them — just as we should in civilian society."

Udall continued, "I will work with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to ensure that this year's National Defense Authorization Act takes bold and productive action to solve this problem. Senators from both sides of the aisle have been collaborating on a number of proposals to address the issue. We need policies that preserve cohesion and morale by ensuring that military survivors of sexual assault are confident they will be protected by their chains of command and that their perpetrators will be effectively prosecuted.”

Senator Udall sits on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Discuss

It's obvious from the way the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is handling their support of various candidates in Colorado's Congressional races that they are using the Bennet Strategy -- or rather -- the strategy they have come to believe was Bennet's. Commercial after commercial slams Republicans on women's reproductive choice issues, just as Bennet's commercials against Ken Buck exposed him for his misogyny on women's health. DCCC support of Miklosi, for example, consists almost entirely of these types of ads.

But are they working?

Poll

Is the DCCC hitting the right note to attract women voters?

16%2 votes
50%6 votes
25%3 votes
8%1 votes
0%0 votes

| 12 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 02:57 PM PDT

Secret Romney Video Surfaces: Yikes!

by njcronk

A tracker attended a fundraiser for Mitt Romney earlier this year and filmed Romney speaking very candidly to friends and supporters about what he really thinks about the President of the United States, as well as those who voted for him. Mother Jones broke the story, dividing up the video into five parts. Some of the most potentially damaging quotes are below:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax."

Later he went on:

"[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Continue Reading

Congressional Candidate Joe Miklosi released a hard-hitting ad today on You Tube, indicating it will begin playing tomorrow on television. Miklosi hit all of the major bullet points he needed to make:

1. He's a regular guy like us, sitting with neighbors in friends in a regular coffee shop, not a Washington incumbent.
2. Congress has never been less popular, and here's why you should send Joe Miklosi to fix it.
3. Incumbent Mike Coffman is a Tea Party member.
4. Mike Coffman holds dangerous, extremists views about a woman's right to make her own health care decisions.
5. The GOP is concentrating on taking away people's rights instead of offering economic solutions.
6. We need to stop outsourcing jobs and bring them back to the U.S.
7. Coffman wants to end Medicare.
8. Joe Miklosi = Colorado common sense.

I like the ad. Democrats need to hammer the Tea Party association on Coffman as much as possible to expose Coffman's true colors (Coffman's ad teams have done an effective job in his past elections to falsely paint him as a moderate). The ad is hard-hitting, yet 100% true.

Thoughts?

Poll

Is the ad effective?

57%8 votes
28%4 votes
14%2 votes

| 14 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

The Akin (achin') gaffes and the many other stories of late in the War Against Women have not only put a microscope on reproductive rights for women, but raised much larger questions. "Why do women put up with misogyny?" and "Why are there so few women in office?"

In Colorado, where women hold more elected offices at the state level than in any other state (and we have some of the strongest women in the country!), our numbers are still not even 40%, in a country where women are 51% of the population. Add to that our gross under-representation on the Supreme Court, and women cannot honestly point fingers at any other country. The political arena in the United States grossly under-represents women.

I am curious what kinds of systemic issues are beneath this problem. For those women who read Daily Kos and are brave enough to answer some questions, I hope you will. Not only will your answers be interesting, they may educate some Cro-Magnons who lurk on liberal blogs (and I say that with much affection, of course).

It will be interesting to see if the women who use their own names answer differently from bloggers who identify as women, yet who blog anonymously. It will also be interesting to see if these same questions posted on women-only blogs yield similar answers to this blog site, which has a considerable mix.

Ladies?  

Poll

Are you ...?

22%5 votes
77%17 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

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I live about ten miles away from the shootings in Aurora, and spent much of yesterday talking to people who were directly affected. One woman's friend died. Another friend lost a coworker. Another friend was in the theatre next door when the shootings happened, and made it out unharmed, but frightened. Another friend knows a family whose daughter is hanging onto her life by a thread in intensive care. A paramedic friend seemed to be in a fog -- the things he saw and the things he had to do will haunt him a lifetime. Another friend shared about a family member who is a nurse, and the stresses the employees are under at the hospital where she works. Everywhere we turn in Aurora, there are stories of heartache and despair. There is still much confusion, and many residents are in a state of shock.
 

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Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 05:53 PM PDT

Writing History... "retroactively"

by njcronk

Author's Note: This diary has been updated every time I thought of another #retroactively joke.

Ed Gillespie, Mitt Romney's top campaign adviser, stated Sunday on "State of the Union" that Romney cannot be held responsible for decisions made at Bain Capital between 1999 and 2001, because Romney had retired from Bain to run the Olympics in Utah "retroactively."

Gillespie may feel a need to say he never said that "retroactively", since it has become an instant butt of many jokes on twitter, and will soon be on late-night television comedy shows, as well.

This got me to thinking -- where would we be if we could all change history retroactively? Imagine all of the blogs that never would have been written if everyone could employ the Republican magic trick of revisionism. Just off the top of my head....

The Skipper to Gilligan: Professor says there's a storm coming. No more tours today. #retroactively

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Obama Administration Regional Director in Health and Human Services, Marguerite Salazar, was in Denver Monday to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) and what it means for people living in Colorado. Hosted by Senator Mark Udall, she held a press conference with the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative’s Executive Director, Dede De Percin. Salazar applauded the recent Supreme Court Decision to uphold the Constitutionality of the ACA, and promised it will bring a multitude of benefits to Colorado’s citizens, and to our local economy.

As Udall introduced Salazar, a native of Alamosa, he added he “proudly voted for the Affordable Care Act”, and shared that in his travels around Colorado, many citizens had expressed frustration over their lack of quality healthcare insurance due to pre-existing conditions clauses, as well as caps on coverage.  

“Those problems will be gone under the Affordable Care Act. In addition, families like my own with young adults in them will benefit from the feature that ensures people ages 22-26 will still be able to join their parent’s health insurance plans while getting their careers off the ground.”
Salazar outlined the scope of the problem in Colorado:
“Until now, there have been 700,000 people uninsured in Colorado. Over the last ten years, insurance rated had doubled. Nationally, more than 50 million Americans were uninsured, and tens of millions of people were underinsured”.
 

No More Abuses, Better Care for Colorado

The Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act means Coloradans will be protected from insurance company abuses, Medicare will be strengthened, families will experience more financial security, and Coloradans across the state will have better access to healthcare overall.

Under the ACA, it is illegal for insurance companies to deny anyone for pre-existing conditions, to provide coverage caps to families or individuals who experience major medical tragedies, to discriminate against girls and women on the basis of their gender, and to cancel policies after a person has been diagnosed with a chronic illness or disease.

80/20 Rule

Many Coloradans will receive cash back from their insurance companies if the insurance companies fail to provide enough coverage in proportion to the rates they are charging in premiums. (An older man at the press conference stated he had already received a rebate check for more than $260.)  The rebate is called the “80/20 rule” – insurance companies are mandated to spend eighty percent of the payments they collect on health care for their policy holders. If they don’t, they must refund it to their contracted customers. In 2012, 12.8 million Americans will receive more than 1 billion dollars in rebates. The ACA also prevents unfair rate increases -- premium rate hikes greater than 10% will automatically trigger an audit.

Better for Small Businesses, Better for Non-profits

The Affordable Care Act will make doing business in Colorado more affordable. Small businesses, as well as non-profits, which make up 96% of the employing businesses in Colorado, used to pay 18% more in premiums for the same coverage compared to large corporations. Small businesses that choose to provide health insurance premiums for their employees will receive tax credits of 25% to help them do it. In 2011, 360,000 employers received a tax credit nationally. Any small business in Colorado that was not aware of this benefit can go back as far as 2010 to amend their tax return to qualify for their credit. Non-profit businesses (including many churches)  that do not pay taxes are still eligible for the credit, allowing them to receive cash payments for providing healthcare insurance to their employees.

Young People Will Be Insured

Families with young adult children in Colorado are already enjoying the “22-26 feature” of the Affordable Care Act. Previously, premiums were too high for young adults just starting out on their own, so many of them were uninsured, putting them at long-lasting financial risk if they had an accident or debilitating illness. Under the ACA, more than 50,000 families in Colorado are already enjoying peace of mind from this benefit. Nationally, the number is 3.1 million families.

Poll

Will the Affordable Care Act help your family?

81%22 votes
11%3 votes
7%2 votes

| 27 votes | Vote | Results

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I spent Saturday at TBD -- a very lame name for a pretty cool idea. Governor Hickenlooper wanted to bring together one thousand civic leaders from all over the state, educate them on the basics of the budget process in Colorado, and give them ample opportunities to talk to each other about how best to move forward, in a completely nonpartisan environment.

The name TBD means "To Be Determined", which I am told, refers to the fact the completed program still does not have a permanent name. When I was initially invited to join the group, the name was daunting -- despite a vague description on a website, I had no idea what I was in for.

TBD took place over two weekend half-days in various regional locations, and culminated in a day-long Summit in Denver. Two other cities in CO joined the Denver group by Skype. The main content of the workshops revolved around five key areas previously chosen by a "framing committee": transportation, health care, state workforce, education and the state constitution. These key areas became the framework for discussion and debate.

Lt. Governor Joe Garcia attended the full day Summit with us, and Governor Hickenlooper attended the last portion of the Summit, giving closing remarks, and inviting all of us to stay  involved on state matters. I overheard the Governor say to someone at one point, "That's a very interesting idea. Why don't we go for a beer and talk about is some more?"

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Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 08:48 PM PDT

Not Just Another Key Demographic

by njcronk

A facebook friend of mine, who happens to also be a Latino activist, posted the following great analysis of recent political attempts to win him over:

It's fascinating how white Republicans seem to think Latinos are monolithic. Marco Rubio is Cuban and most Latinos simply don't identify with him. He isn't some sort of magical key to the Latino vote. Cubans are a slim minority of all Latinos in the United States. Most of us are Mexican. Many of us are also Salvadoran, Colombian, Peruvian, Chilean, Panamanian, Argentinian, etc. Not only is it geography, it is culture, food, language (the Spanish language is a far more diverse than English). We are straight, gay, European, Native American, African, Asian. Latinos make for a fascinating tapestry. It might do Republicans some good to recognize this reality.
I was struck by the honesty and power of his post; as a woman I had been feeling exactly the same way. We are no longer just slightly more than half the country. We’ve become a commodity.

Already this summer, I’m observing cheesy, schmaltzy, one-size-fits-all attempts to court women voters.  Many campaigns seem to reach from the same old tired bag of tricks every time they want to reach out to women:

•    Make the website page look soft and feminine.
•    Have a “Women For… (Insert candidate’s name here)” group.
•    Talk about abortion to the exclusion of almost anything else.
•    Show the candidate’s wife as often as possible.
•    Hire perky, pretty college girls to sign up supporters using clipboards.
•    Shoot photos around the dinner table (as if that’s the only place women hang out).

Snore.  Flinch. Recoil. Why are they doing this?

Women make up 51% of the population of the United States. Women and Latino voters are the key demographics in the November general election, from the County Coroner to the President of the United States. As the lead organizer in Denver for Colorado’s grassroots “We Are Women” March and Rally on April 28th of this year (there were lead organizers in other cities and towns around the state, too), I’ve received a number of phone calls from candidates asking for my help in “getting women on board with our campaign”. Our two-thousand person Rally and March in CO was unique in that it was not sponsored by a non-profit or corporation, but entirely grassroots, was replicated at the same time on the same day in all fifty states around the nation, and entirely funded by the activists who participated. Campaigns have been chomping at the bit to get a piece of it, wanting to know if they can have my activist list, Google docs, and “secret words” (secret handshake?).

Here’s the secret. Start respecting women.  And while you’re at it, start respecting everyone else, too.

At the federal level, any incumbent who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or pissed off the Children’s Defense Fund, should hang up their campaign right now. Don’t even bother reading to the end of this page.

At the State level, any incumbent who voted in favor of limiting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health care, or who voted to decrease school funding, or to limit resources to the poor, the elderly, children, and anyone else who is vulnerable, take a hike.  Take it now.

What about targeted state level and higher candidates who are running for election for the first time?  Here’s how voters should decide. (Listen up, women activist friends – I’m about to tell you.)

Go to the candidate’s website. If equality for all persons regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, marital status, religion, citizenship, health, original language, and country of birth (otherwise known as civil rights) are not clearly one of the top three marquis issues, close the website and walk away.  Send your money and spend your volunteer time working for another candidate. If it’s up there, go to the next step.

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"This is Democrats' best opportunity to pick up a seat in the entire Mountain West."  - The Cook Political Report  

Both Cook and Rothenberg Political Reports believe Joe Miklosi has a good chance of beating incumbent Mike Coffman in CD6. In today's Cook Report, it states Colorado Democrats "scored a huge coup" from the state judge who redrew Congressional boundaries, and acknowledges that Coffman and Tipton's continuous controversies are making those districts increasingly winnable for Democrats. The article also reminds readers that under the new lines drawn for CD6, Obama won by fify-four percent in 2008.

The Cook article continues on to review Coffman's unpatriotic comment about the President at the Elbert County fundraiser, and his embarrassing string of foot-in-mouth moments trying to do damage control. In their words, Coffman "demonstrated that he hasn't adjusted to life as a swing district candidate".

The Cook Article goes on to say this:

Through mid-June, however, Miklosi has raised $641,000 and should be able to stockpile all of it for November since he's facing only token opposition in the primary. This is Democrats' best opportunity to pick up a seat in the entire Mountain West.

The Rothenberg Report
lists the Miklosi v. Coffman race as a "pure toss-up". Earlier, they had written another article titled, "New Colorado Map Puts Coffman in Peril".

Why do these reports matter? Both the Cook Report and the Rothenberg Political Report influence potential donors who hope to score political points by donating to the candidate with the best chance of winning. Until 2012, that man was always Mike Coffman in CD6. Look for Miklosi's fundraising -- and odds -- to improve as big donors balance their bets on both candidates.

Discuss
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