Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Georgetown Law Alumni Meet

Go Hoyas! More than 30 Georgetown Law Alumni heard a presentation by and asked questions of John Walsh, Colorado’s new U.S. Attorney. Walsh discussed terrorism, immigration, Native Americans and drug enforcement issues with the Colorado bar members. The alumni association is a newly formed project of the national law alumni board, of which I’m a local representative.

Anyone interested in having their child or other students or friends they know attend Georgetown Law should contact me. If you are a law graduate and want to become more involved, let me know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Democratic Leadership Council Shuts Down

After more than a quarter century of operation, including a Colorado affiliate, the organization representing moderate Democratic politicians has closed down, out of money and out of purpose.

Born after the massive Walter Mondale defeat in 1984, the organization’s greatest victory was the Bill Clinton election in 1992. But, the organization became the target of the growing power of the left in the Democratic Party during the Bush term represented by liberal bloggers and former Democratic Chairman Howard Dean. The final blow was the candidacy of Barack Obama defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries. Clinton represented the moderate forces in the party and Obama the left.

The policy think tank associated with the organization continues to function, but the politicians are gone. Many won office and have since retired, some found government positions, including in the Obama administration, and others simply moved on.

The Colorado DLC functioned after high-profile politicians, such as Tim Worth and Roy Romer retired, as a small group of business-oriented Democratic activists. Approximately a third of registered Democrats in Colorado identify themselves as moderates as opposed to 50 percent who say they are liberals. Democratic politicians, like John Hickenlooper, claim to represent moderates, but independently of a specific organization, like the DLC.

Few will miss the low-key organization, but business-oriented Democrats will have to find their own access points to Democratic politics most likely through other organizations, such as the bi-partisan Colorado Concerned and Denver Chamber.

See additional articles:
New Republic: Requiem for the DLC
Colorado DLC: January 2011 update
Washington Post: The Fix: The myth of the dying moderate

Friday, February 18, 2011

DAC and DPC Host Mayoral Forum

On March 2, the second phase of the Denver mayor’s campaign will begin with a candidates’ forum on “How to keep Denver’s economy strong,” co-sponsored by the Denver Athletic Club and the Denver Petroleum Club. As moderator, I will try to generate some excitement in what, thus far, has been a boring and low-key race.

After their early organizing and fundraising efforts, it’s clear that none of the top candidates for mayor has established a dominant position. Although Chris Romer has the money lead, it’s not insurmountable and there is still resistance to his rise. To some extent, the Bill Vidal boomlet is a reflection that many powerful stakeholders in Denver’s local politics want another choice.

March starts the next phase of the campaign where candidates begin to distinguish themselves and try to break out of the pack. Big endorsements, surges in fundraising, new proposals and attacks on competitors, particularly frontrunners, start in earnest.

Denver Petroleum Club members are especially concerned about the city’s business climate on taxes, regulation and quality of infrastructure. They estimate more than 5,000 people work in the industry in Denver, including executives, landmen, accountants, lawyers and support staff, many of them downtown Denver.

The Denver Athletic Club has a 125-year history of supporting civic causes, being a forum for city discussion and the club for community leaders.

As the president on the club’s 125th anniversary, I can say the commitment has never been stronger among members to keep Denver the preeminent city in the Rocky Mountain region. Maintaining a vibrant economy is essential to that goal.

Attendees are invited to submit questions by e-mail,

See flyer for mayor’s forum here

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Denver Holds Position as Colorado’s Top County

Denver began a significant population decline in the 1970s, which continued into the 1990s, dropping to 468,000 residents (recorded in the 1990 census), and nearly falling behind a surging Jefferson County. Denver, like most older American core cities, was led by a tired, big city machine, and watched an exodus of residents to the suburbs, acerbated by school busing.

But new political leadership, joined by willing a business community, began a renewal in the mid-1980s that invested in major infrastructure projects and a series of policies to jump start the city’s economy and growth. By 2000, the city was back with the population above a half a million residents.

The 2010 census shows Denver broke 600,000 for the first time in its history and is again the largest county in the state.

While Denver lost population for about 20 years and is now 22 percent of the total metro population, down from 42 percent in 1970, it managed to maintain its economic position over the last 20 years.

In 1989, Denver collected 31 percent of the region’s sales taxes and today collects 29 percent. Denver’s investments in the Convention Center, sports facilities, airport, cultural facilities and a host of quality of life improvements in parks and transportation, among other items, have reinvigorated the city.

Even with two recessions, as of today, one-cent of sales tax collects three times what it did in 1989 for the municipalities and public agencies in the Denver metro area.  The final 2010 figures show $400 million raised.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stapleton Casts Lone Vote on PERA

Government pensions may be the most serious financial problem states and state taxpayers face. Colorado’s new treasurer pledged to take on Colorado’s main government pension fund – the troubled PERA. Walker Stapleton was the lone vote on the 15-member PERA board for changes to reduce future liabilities and put the fund on a more solid footing. Will it require more lonely votes before PERA is sound?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reagan at 100

Ronald Reagan signed my UCLA graduation diploma in 1973. He was at the end of a successful eight-year term as governor. UCLA, like most universities, was in turmoil in the early 70s, and Reagan constantly spoke out against disruptive campus behavior. But, the UC system was in its glory years for growth and funding. My college year cost less than $1,000.

Reagan was 61 when he signed my diploma, and in eight years would take the oath of office as the oldest president elected at 69. In California in 1975, he was replaced by the state’s youngest governor, Jerry Brown, then 36 years old – now the eldest at 71.

Reagan beat Pat Brown, Jerry’s father, to launch the conservative movement in California in 1966 shortly after his Goldwater speech in the 1964 presidential campaign. He then took the conservative movement to power in Washington. Our domestic politics is still largely shaped by the issues related to the size and reach of government that he defined.

He lived to see the success of his foreign policy goal of the defeat and replacement of the Soviet Communism. Although the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism continues.

Clearly, Reagan is the standout president since Roosevelt.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Denver Petroleum Club and DAC Host Mayoral Candidate Forum

On March 2, the Denver Petroleum Club with Denver Athletic Club will host a Denver mayoral candidate forum. I will moderate the event posing questions to the candidates.

Questions will also be generated from Petroleum Club and DAC members.

The theme will be: How can Denver keep a positive business climate?

Join us.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vidal Says No - Definitively

No surprise. Bill Vidal is not running for mayor. Not only would he have gone back on his own word, but he promised his mentor and former boss, John Hickenlooper, he would not be a candidate. Running would have also made it very uncomfortable for numerous city employees who are supporting other candidates.
But wait – Vidal began listening to friends, money people and consultants. Forget his repeated statements about not running, or his understanding with Hickenlooper (Vidal disputes this but frankly his statement is not credible) or the reliance and expectations of other candidates and much of the political establishment, just push ahead.
Then have second thoughts, back out and attack Hickenlooper. An amazingly weird performance, which mostly makes Vidal look disingenuous and damages his credibility as Mayor.
Although Hickenlooper probably won this exchange with his former deputy manager, it served to remind people Hickenlooper is still playing politics in Denver.
Given more than a million dollars has now been raised, the various interests and consultants looking for new candidates probably will back off and go with someone in the field. Expect to see the race consolidate quickly.
See Denver Post articles:
Vidal won't run, rips Hick
Denver's next mayor: Handicapping the race
"Lot of chatter" about encouraging Mayor Vidal to run for full term
Mayor Vidal puts a nail in it - He's not running

Wadhams Quits

Democrats are smiling. Not only was Dick Wadhams a master campaign tactician, but he realized that in a high turnout presidential race, Colorado Republicans must reach out and attract sufficient weak partisans and unaffiliated voters to get to a majority. It can’t just be done with Republican loyalists and conservatives.

Ted Harvey and his legislative colleagues are the party’s leadership as it approaches the 2012 presidential race. And, they know how to add state senate and house seats. They must convert swing districts to the Republican column. Those same tactical and strategic approaches will be needed to defeat Obama statewide. Is the Democratic elation premature? – probably, but Republicans beware. Colorado is both a top battleground state, and the Democrats model on how to win the close race.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Attorney Theresa Spahn Joins Top Mayoral Fundraisers

The Denver mayor’s race topped a million dollars in contributions on February 1st. The race will be a multi-million dollar battle with bond trader Chris Romer likely to lead the pack.

A new candidate who managed to collect more than $50,000 is attorney Theresa Spahn. In fact, she now leads Councilman-at-large Doug Linkhart.

Fundraising is only one part of the contest, but it can purchase considerable name identification and early favorability. Since Romer has high-name identification due to his father, having raised nearly a half million dollars makes him frontrunner.

Metro Regional Sales Tax Up 8% in 2010

At least consumer spending is beginning to recover in metro Denver. The total sales tax revenue in the seven-county metro area is up 7.8 percent in 2010 above 2009.

A one-percent of sales tax produces $400 million in the region, which RTD collects. A 7.8 percent increase is good news for the municipalities, special districts and a few counties of the region that depend on sales tax for general funds and specific projects, such as transportation, recreation and culture.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Democrats Go South

Similar to picking Denver by selecting Charlotte, Obama wants to strengthen his position in North Carolina, which he closely carried in 2008, and other mid-southern states, such as Virginia.  Although picking a convention city is mostly a sorting through prosaic arrangement factors, by not picking Ohio, Minnesota or Missouri, the Democrats may have signaled they’re putting more emphasis on new states Obama won in 2008 rather than states Democrats struggled with in 2010.

Republicans Target Montana Senate Seat

Six years ago, Jon Tester’s surprising Montana win gave the Democrats their one-vote takeover of the U.S. Senate and helped define the new Democrats in the West.

He’s up in 2012, and won’t have the anti-Bush Democratic surge of 2006 helping him. He’ll be running with Obama, who did not carry Montana in 2008.

See Politico: Top 10 most competitive Senate races

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Denver’s Top Three Candidates

The latest Denver mayoral finance reports confirm there are three front running candidates at the start of February: Chris Romer reporting $228,000, James Mejia reporting $160,000 and Michael Hancock the same amount.

Hancock and Mejia represent candidates more inside the city political system and Romer outside. They reflect the city’s three ethnic groups, although they are mostly similar in ideology – center left.

Doug Linkhart is the most liberal candidate and only raised $38,000. Carol Boigon, a possible sleeper due to fundraising potential, raised only $52,000.

See Denver Post article:  Denver mayoral canidate Chris Romer led in 2010 fundraising

Business Welcomed Back to the White House

After two years of estrangement, President Obama and the White House team have seen the error of their ways and welcomed back big business.

The motivation for the shift lies mostly in the shellacking of last November (labor and liberals weren’t enough to hold off the wave) and the necessity to raise $1 billion for the 2012 campaign. Also important, Obama will look far more credible on the critical 2012 issue of jobs if he appears working closely with a supportive, smiling business and corporate community.

Most people on the left don’t believe this administration was particularly hostile to business during the first two years. The bailouts, stimulus, health care reform and even the financial regulations were either generous to business or far less onerous than a hard left agenda would have advocated. And, of course, the Bush era tax extension was a major victory for the corporate class.

But, the Obama administration and its Chicago clan did not welcome business into the White House, even on a social level, and Republicans made major fundraising gains, helping fuel the 2010 midterm victories.

Expect that to change. Most Americans don’t realize that Obama’s 2008 campaign, which opted out of campaign financing and its limits, was the most successful fundraising machine in history, and for a liberal Democrat, incredibly rich. Obama outspent John McCain by 50 percent, which paid for an onslaught of advertising that not only sealed Obama’s wins in key states, but turned them into near landslide victories after the recent history of close presidential elections.

See Washington Post article:  Obama's fundraisers are rebuilding bridges to big donors for 2012 campaign

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wadhams vs. Harvey

Douglas County is possibly the Republicans’ most important counties for elections and leadership: Frank McNulty, Speaker; Mark Scheffel, Minority Caucus Chair; and Carole Murray, Majority Caucus Whip. Mike May, Minority Leader last session, now has a candidate for Republican state chairperson. And, it’s not former State Senator Tom Wiens, who dropped out of his exploratory effort last week, but current State Senator Ted Harvey.

One would assume Dick Wadhams has the votes, but state chair politics often revolves around local and especially state legislative politics, and there’s no doubt this will be a race.

Americans Turn Isolationist

American engagement in the world is beginning to wane. A strong sense America is no longer able to compete with rapidly growing developing countries of China, India and Brazil; exhaustion with the expensive and unresolved wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and disappointment that much of world opinion is hostile to American values, including nations we have helped for decades, is culminating in a growing view that international involvement is risky and unrewarding.

The three decades of American post-WWII dominance were based on economic, military and cultural power. The strength of each is now debated. The latest Washington Post poll shows just one-third of Americans believe an “interconnected global economy” is a good thing. In 2001, 60 percent of Americans believed globalization was a good thing.

The weakness of the international economy and its impact on America’s domestic wellbeing is now seen as a threat equal to international terrorism.

Previous polls reported in this blog highlight America’s fear of the rise of China and the U.S.’s corresponding decline. Polls also show Americans believe Iraq is not secure as either an ally or a democracy, and more people now believe we should leave Afghanistan than stay.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Internet and Social Media Dominate U.S. National and International News Viewing

The latest round of national media polling released prior to the State of the Union document the growing shift of Americans to non-traditional media.  One-half of the respondents in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they have a profile on Facebook or Linkedin.  In the same poll, cable channels dominate network for news of politics and current events (48% cable to 36% network).  And, a major irritant to Democratic partisans, Fox News dominates the cable marketplace.

The Pew Research Center’s latest research affirms the change in the public’s source of national and international news. The Internet is becoming increasingly competitive with television as America’s main source of news. As the Pew chart shows, television has declined from 82 percent in 2000 to 65 percent of the news marketplace in 2010.

Also during the last decade, the Internet audience for national and international news tripled from 13 percent in 2000 to 41 percent today. Newspapers that were cited by one-half the public as their news source in as recently as 2003 have dropped to 31 percent today. Radio, including talk radio, has remained stable at 16 percent.

Among people under 30 years old, the Internet beats television as their main source of national and international news.  Also, college graduates are now nearly as likely to depend on the Internet for news as television.

As other polls show, cable beats broadcast news, although even cable TV has declined from a high of 44 percent in 2002 to 36 percent now.

In a demonstration of this new media reality, the Michele Bachmann response to the State of the Union got more coverage than the official Republican response, at least partially because it powerfully used non-traditional media. It was developed for the Tea Party website to be streamed on the Internet, then was broadcast live on CNN and went viral on political websites among her friends and foes. Cable and radio talk shows made it a major topic and, finally, it was considered of sufficient news value to make broadcast (albeit largely in the context of possible divisions among the Republicans). Today, a major political speech must be accompanied by Internet postings from bloggers, video, Facebook, Twitter and circulation among all the available cable and radio talk shows.