Mark Udall in his younger mountain climbing days.
WASHINGTON — In a country where three in four Americans disapprove of Congress’s job performance, Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall hopes to distance himself from the institution by projecting an image of youth and athleticism.
The incumbent’s campaign recently created a “listicle” for the hip website “Buzzfeed” that compared his accomplishments as a mountain climber to those as a lawmaker – “14 Ways Getting Stuff Done in Congress is Like Climbing a 14er” – a reference to his accomplishment of climbing the state’s mountains that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level.
It’s a strategy that pollster Floyd Ciruli says would play well with Colorado voters.
“If you are young and vigorous, you come across as less of an incumbent,” Ciruli said.
But it’s not just the issue of incumbency Udall must overcome, he’s 63-years old, while his Republican opponent Rep. Cory Gardner is 39. Read more »
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
WASHINGTON — Colorado’s two Democratic senators approved the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell Thursday as the new Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to replace Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned six months after the disastrous rollout of Obamacare.
Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet voted along with 52 Democrats and independents and 24 Republicans who approved of the nominee, while 17 Republicans voted no.
Neither Coloradan released statements to explain their votes, and Bennet declined to answer a reporter’s question as he headed onto the Senate floor to vote.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, said during a floor speech prior to the vote he supported Burwell’s nomination partly because of her stated commitment to retrieve $1.3 billion the federal government gave to seven states whose state-run exchanges failed or need an overhaul. Read more »
WASHINGTON – A national gun-control group will begin airing television ads in support of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in the early fall, according to a spokesperson with Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Udall was selected because of his April 2013 vote that would have created a universal background check for gun purchases and is in a contested race for re-election, according to the political action committee’s spokesperson.
“Sen. Udall has been a champion on this issue,” the spokesperson said.
Udall was one of 11 federal lawmakers who will be a beneficiary of the ads. All but two are Democrats.
The organization suggested that another possible benefactor is Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the Colorado state House who is locked in a tight race with Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District. Read more »
WASHINGTON – Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn on Tuesday blasted the Obama administration for ignoring Congress when it struck a deal to exchange Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.
“(T)he Obama administration disregarded the law of the land and decades of precedent when it orchestrated an illegal and secret terrorist swap that effectively set free five of the most dangerous enemies of America,” Lamborn said in a statement.
The Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee said he would use his senior position on the panel to “ensure that the administration is held accountable for violating the law,” while Republican Senators demanded that hearings be held on their side of the Capitol.
Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, missed nearly a dozen votes on Tuesday and has not weighed in on the issue. The full Armed Services committee is scheduled to receive the first classified briefing on the contentious swap next week. Read more »
WASHINGTON — One federal-loan program for green energy asks applicants to wade through so much paperwork the Energy Department has not made a loan in more than three years. A second program does not evaluate if its loans for renewable or innovative energy technologies are effective.
The conclusions were drawn from a new report by an independent federal agency, which suggested that Congress save $4.2 billion by halting future payments to the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program.
Frank Rusco, director of natural resources and environment for the Government Accountability Office, appeared on Capitol Hill Friday to take questions from lawmakers about the findings of the 11-page report. “The requirements and the length of the time to get through the process is just not worth it,” Rusco told members of an investigations and oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Read more »
Rep. Jared Polis
WASHINGTON — Despite being a major financial contributor to efforts that would restrict hydraulic fracturing in Colorado, Rep. Jared Polis insisted he is neutral on a closely watched initiative in the 2nd Congressional District he represents.
“I would support Loveland whatever its citizens choose,” said Polis, referring to the city of 70,000 where voters will decide June 24 on a two-year fracking ban.
“I have never taken a position for or against on any of these initiatives. I fully respect the decisions that voters will make,” Polis said.
However, the Colorado Democrat said that pro-fracking forces need to make their case to voters.
“I think most Coloradoans recognize that energy is an important part of our state economy. If those who support fracking don’t take local interests into consideration, they risk,” Polis said, pausing for half a minute to come up with the correct word, “a backlash.” Read more »
Rep. Mike Coffman at a press conference Tuesday on illegal immigrants joining the military. (Colorado Observer/Mark Stricherz)
WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Coffman spoke from the heart; He also spoke in Spanish.
In the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, he signaled that House Republican leaders should hold a vote on his legislation that would permit some foreign-born young people to enlist in the military and become citizens.
“There’s a special place in my heart for this bill,” the Colorado Republican said at a press conference Tuesday, referring to the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act he authored.
“I entered the military at the age of 17. I had been a high school drop-out and got my equivalency degree in the Army on the GI Bill,” Coffman said.
Coffman said his legislation is an opportunity for those “who grew up here, who went to school here, whose families are here … to have the opportunity to serve and earn a path to citizenship.” Read more »
Sen. Mark Udall
WASHINGTON — Colorado Republicans take a dim view of Sen. Mark Udall’s reelection prospects, a Democrat they see as a rubber stamp for the president, an environmental extremist, and an unpopular incumbent running against a likable and fresh-faced challenger.
Ask Democrats or D.C. political strategists about Udall, and their views are entirely different. They see an independent voice similar to Gov. John Hickenlooper, a respected environmentalist, and an experienced politician challenging a conservative who was handpicked by party insiders.
But the outcome of the Nov. 4 election most likely will be up to independent voters as to whether Udall or Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner deserves the right to represent Colorado for the next six years in the U.S. Senate.
Early polls indicate that Udall has a slight advantage over Gardner, but one in ten of those surveyed remains undecided.
For Gardner, the main obstacle with voters is geographic — the Republican is running in a state where voters backed President Barack Obama in both presidential elections. Read more »
Sen. Michael Bennet
WASHINGTON — Publicly, Sen. Michael Bennet downplays his ability to read a balance sheet and work a crowd. “I just want to provide them with a perspective on infrastructure,” Bennet said as he entered a windowless room underneath the Capitol Wednesday, where the American Society of Civil Engineers held a conference on financing the nation’s roads, schools, and levies.
But inwardly, the Colorado Democrat and former managing director at the Anschutz Investment Company, exuded confidence in his skills. Bennet arrived without his customary aides by his side and after being acknowledged by a female moderator and taking a seat on an Aeron chair on stage, he spoke extemporaneously for half an hour.
Others too perceive Bennet, 49, as a financial wonk who doubles as an elected official. “He has a background in education and investment and is capable of finding solutions. He reaches across the aisle instead of playing games,” Susan Story, the president and CEO of American Water said in her introduction. Read more »
WASHINGTON — From her home in Durango, Paulette Church has few options when it comes to watching Denver-area television news and programming.
“I know for me it’s not the Broncos. It’s knowing about candidates and issues, like the Rocky Mountain PBS. It’s classes for licensure and higher ed. There’s one cable channel that carries Denver news at night. There’s not a lot of on-air options. All we get is Albuquerque news,” Church said in a phone interview.
Church is not your typical citizen. She is the vice president for the local Chamber of Commerce and years ago spearheaded a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to get Denver-area satellite TV coverage in La Plata and Montezuma counties. Yet her efforts so far have yielded little more than one seasonal agreement that Sen. Mark Udall brokered last year to get Denver Bronco games on KREZ, the Durango CBS affiliate and KASA, the Albuquerque Fox affiliate. Read more »