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Colorado Senate Control May Hinge on JeffCo GOP Primary Election Tuesday

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State Policy News

Colorado Senate Control May Hinge on JeffCo GOP Primary Election Tuesday

The eyes of Colorado’s political participants, observers and journalists are focused on the outcome next Tuesday of a key Republican primary race in Jefferson County’s Senate District 19, which is largely centered in Arvada but also contains parts of Westminster.

This GOP primary is, in effect, a perfect petri dish for the national debate within the Republican Party this year: a Tea Party insurgent vs. an Establishment candidate.  Guns and religion are two hot topics in the race.

Most importantly, the outcome of this primary has a direct bearing on whether or not the Democrats maintain control of the Senate or the Republicans take back control.  The importance of this race, of course, is dependent on Republicans at least holding on to their current number of 17 Senate seats.

Democrats currently control the Senate by a one-vote margin.  A short history of how this came to be, as well as what the one-vote margin meant for CACI’s lobbying efforts, was explained in CACI’s summary of the 2014 session, which was issued in May.

In a nutshell, should the Tea Party candidate win in SD-19, the odds are greatly increased that the Democratic incumbent will win the general election simply because independent voters and moderate Republicans are much more likely to vote for the Democrat.

Why?  Here’s the voter registration, as of June 2nd, for SD-19 for the Democrats, the Republicans and Unaffiliated.

  • Democrats       22,678
  • Republicans    28,395
  • Unaffiliated     33,072

Incumbent Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, an educator and then-Arvada City Councilwoman, was appointed by a SD-19 vacancy committee last December after then-Senator Evie Hudak, a Democrat, had resigned in late November in the face of a gun-rights recall effort spearheaded by the controversial gun-rights organization, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).

The GOP contenders are Lang Sias , a FedEx pilot, Colorado Air National Guard lieutenant colonel and combat naval aviator and Laura Woods, a former court reporter.

The SD-19 primary race is Ground Zero for the fiery RMGO President, Dudley Brown.  Here’s how reporter Eli Stokols of KDVR Fox 31 describes Brown in a recent article for 5280 Magazine:

Brown is “ . . . notorious in Colorado Republican circles for his scorched –earth tactics against GOP candidates who don’t fill out his survey, which asks candidates to declare their absolute support for gun rights and their commitment to fighting against or to repeal gun control efforts.”

Sias ran in 2012 for the SD-19 seat and was endorsed by CACI for the general election.  He narrowly lost the race by 584 votes to Hudak, a difference of 0.8 percent of the total 70,744 votes cast for the two candidates.

The Libertarian Party candidate, Lloyd Sweeny, however, earned 5,104 votes.  Had Sweeny not been in the race, veteran GOP political consultant Dick Wadhams, former chair of the Colorado Republican Party, told Stokols that he believes that Sias would have won.  The district, as of June 1st, has 680 registered Libertarians.

Woods received top-of-the line billing for the primary ballot at the district’s March GOP Assembly.  Woods reportedly worked on the Hudak recall effort, and RMGO has endorsed Woods.

Meanwhile, in Senate District 22, which includes Lakewood, the incumbent, Democrat Andy Kerr awaits the winner of the GOP primary, whose contenders are Mario Nicolais and Tony Sanchez.  RMGO has endorsed Sanchez, thus setting up an intra-party battle similar to that in SD-19.

Statehouse observers believe, however, that the popular Kerr will be difficult for a Republican to beat in the general election.  Kerr represented a Lakewood House seat for three terms after being appointed to the seat because of a vacancy and was then elected in 2012 to the new SD-22 seat following reapportionment in 2011.  Here’s the June 2nd registration information for SD-22:

  • Democrats       27,835
  • Republicans    27,494
  • Unaffiliated      31,000

How Two Veteran Political Observers View the Two Races

“It comes down to a very simple question; do Jefferson County Republicans want to ascribe our party to permanent minority status in the Colorado legislature?” Wadhams told Stokols, “Because if the wrong candidate is nominated, Democrats are going to win these seats.  The fight for the senate majority would be over in June.”

“Republicans have a choice to make in these primaries: Do they want a candidate who makes their hearts flutter in June, or do they want to go to a victory party in November,” Eric Sondermann told Stokols, “Because I think those two are probably incompatible.”

For news media coverage of the Republican primary races and other political news in these two important legislative districts, read:

GOP Begins Work to Try to Reclaim Colorado Senate,” by Ivan Moreno, The Associated Press, CBS 4 Denver, June 17th.

Hopeful GOPs met in smoke-filled room; seek Senate takeover,” by Jody Hope Strogoff, The Colorado Statesman, June 13th.

The New Front in Dudley Brown’s War: Jefferson County,” by Eli Stokols, 5280 Magazine, June 12th.

Woods regrets sharing post comparing Sias to abortion doctor Gosnell,” by John Aguilar, The Denver Post, June 12th.

Two Jeffco GOP primary battles could dictate control of Colorado Senate,” John Aguilar, The Denver Post, June 8th.

GOP primaries heat up legislative races in Jeffco,” by Ernest Luning, The Colorado Statesman, March 28th.

JeffCo GOP sets state for Senate Primary,” by Sandra Fish, The Colorado Independent, March 22nd.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners goes on attack against Jeffco GOP, two Senate contenders,” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, March 9th.

Lang Sias, Laura Woods ‘Tea’ Up for SD-19 GOP Primary,” Colorado Pols, January 23rd.

Zenzinger chosen to replace Sen. Hudak: Defeats veteran Gagliardi in vacancy committee election,” by Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman, December 16, 2013.

Evie Hudak payback, then kickback?” opinion, by Mike Rosen, The Denver Post, December 4, 2013.

Hudak resigns Senate seat in face of recall: Democrat Kraft-Tharp endorses Gagliardi for SD 19 seat,” by Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman, November 27, 2013.

Recall proponents take aim at Hudak,” by Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman, October 28, 2013.

CACI’s Legislative Candidate Endorsement Process Well Underway

This summer, CACI’s lobbying team is working hard on the process of evaluating incumbent and new legislative candidates for CACI endorsement and financial support.

Incumbent legislators are evaluated on various factors, including their voting records on key bills on CACI’s legislative agendas for the 2013 and 2014 sessions.

For new legislative candidates, CACI offers them the opportunity to be interviewed by the lobbying team and CACI members.  The interviews will be conducted July 8-9 and July 15-16.

CACI members who will participate in the interviews will have each contributed $550 to CACI’s political committee, the Colorado Business Political Action Committee (CBPAC).  $550 is the maximum that a company, individual or political action committee can contribute to a Colorado political committee during the 2013-2014 election cycle.

A questionnaire has been sent to each new candidate who has agreed to be interviewed.  Each candidate’s response will be shared with those CACI members who participate in the interview.

In addition, the lobbying team has been preparing a highly detailed document analyzing legislative races that includes such information as party registration in a district, candidate profiles and fundraising and district voting patterns, among other factors.  Each CACI member who participates in the interviews receives a copy of the report.

After a 30-minute interview, the lobbying team and the CACI members will discuss a candidate.  This discussion will contribute to the lobbying team’s slate of recommended endorsements that will be submitted to the CACI Executive Committee for approval.

In late July, CACI will announce its endorsed slate of incumbent and new candidates, each of whom who will then be eligible to receive up to $400 in support from CBPAC.  $400 is the maximum that a legislative candidate can receive from a political committee during the 2013-2014 election cycle.

For more information about CACI’s candidate endorsement process, contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, at 303.866.9642.

CACI Asks for “Party Status” in Air Quality Rulemaking

This week, CACI requested “party status” in the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s (AQCC) consideration of revisions to Regulation Number 3, which is part of the “Stationary Source Permitting and Air Pollution Emission Notice Requirements”.

As an administrative and clean-up effort, the AQCC proposes to revise sections of Regulation Number 3, Parts A and D that correspond to Federal rule amendments, including, but not limited to, estimating Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (“CO2e”), permitting emissions of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrograms (“PM2.5”), greenhouse gas (“GHG”) plant wide applicability limitations (“PALs”), and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) permitting related to GHG emissions.

The Division also proposes to clarify the provisions for filing revised Air Pollutant Emission Notices (“APEN”) in Part A, and to update the public notice publication requirements in Parts B, C, and D.

CACI filed for party-status to ensure that the interests of CACI’s Board of Directors and members are represented as the rulemaking moves forward.   As noted in CACI’s petition for party status:

“Well-defined, cost-effective regulations are of the upmost importance to CACI, as is access to affordable and reliable energy resources in our state.  In particular, CACI’s members are interested in proposed revisions to Commission Regulation No. 3 regarding greenhouse gas regulation and proposed revisions that might make the APEN and permitting process in Colorado more efficient and procedurally fair.  To those ends, our members continue to evaluate the proposal to identify particular issues for improvement or clarification, and will also evaluate any alternate proposals made by other parties to this rulemaking.”

The hearing will take place at 9 a.m., Thursday, August 21st, in the Sabin Conference Room, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver CO 80246.  Public testimony will be taken.  For more information, contact Carly West, CACI Governmental Affairs Representative, at 303.866.9622.

Colorado Water Quality Control Division Seeks New Director

Several changes are afoot in the water programs of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) that will significant affect CACI members in the regulated-water community.

CDPHE is seeking applicants to fill the shoes of Water Quality Control Division Director Steve Gunderson, who recently retired.  Applications are being accepted for the position, which is open only to Colorado residents, through June 27, 2014.

As the leader of the Water Quality Control Division, the new director will have a great impact on Colorado water-quality policy. CACI members are strongly encouraged to forward the posting to potential candidates to help the Department find a person who is the “right fit.”  Here’s the position description:

The Colorado Department Public Health and Environment is recruiting for a dynamic leader to direct the WQCD.  This position is responsible for managing an annual budget of approximately $35 million and the work of approximately 190 employees. The Division is comprised of the following programs: Water Pollution Control, Safe Drinking Water, Watershed, and Operations.  Position provides high-level policy advice to the department’s executive director and governor regarding major water policy matters. This position is responsible for establishing and operating management and organizational systems and assuring integration of multi-disciplinary programs to protect Colorado’s citizens, and water quality. Finally, this position must make thoughtful, balanced and strategic decisions in the face of extreme pressure, identify emerging drinking water and water quality trends and issues, and develop mechanisms and systems to change organizational culture in order to meet new demands.

For more information about CACI’s interest in this matter, contact Carly West, CACI Governmental Affairs Representative, at 303.866.9622.

Effective Safety Training Should be Part of a Company’s Workers’ Compensation Strategy

For all companies, an effective safety training program is one of the most important elements of a firm’s workers’ compensation strategy.  Not only will safety training save time and money for a company, it also can increase employee retention and reduce the necessity for conducting the same training over and over again.

For many years, CACI has sponsored an affinity workers’ compensation program for its members with Pinnacol Assurance, which is a CACI member.  CACI member Keller Lowry Insurance, Inc., is the broker for CACI’s workers’ compensation program.

The next training session of the Safety Group training for the members of CACI’s Workers Compensation Program will be on June 25th at 8:30 a.m. at Pinnacol Assurance, 7501 East Lowry Boulevard, Denver, CO 80230.

This session, however, is open to all CACI members.  CACI members can register by contacting Keller Lowry’s Tom Terry at 303.756.9909.

News Media Coverage

Below is recent news-media coverage of business, political, policy and governmental issues of interest to CACI:

Drilling proponents ask Supreme Court to shut down petition-gathering on Polis amendment,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, June 18th.

Ferrandino taking CFO job at Denver Public Schools,” The Denver Business Journal, June 19th.

Primary election: Colorado’s Republican governor candidates on drilling regulations” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, June 17th.

Loveland is the latest front on fracking,” editorial, The Denver Post, June 16th.

Federal Policy News

CACI Launches Federal Affairs Council

Leah Curtsinger, CACI; Bob Schlue, Boeing; and Ray Johnson, IBM, discuss issues with the CACI Federal Affairs Council.

Leah Curtsinger, CACI; Bob Schlue, Boeing; and Ray Johnson, IBM, discuss issues with the CACI Federal Affairs Council.

On Tuesday, CACI held the first meeting its new Federal Affairs Council, which was chaired by Bob Schlue, Director, Mission Operations Colorado, The Boeing Company.  More than 40 CACI members attended.

The Council heard presentations by Leah Curtsinger, CACI Federal Policy Representative, on the following:

  • The proposed Keystone XL pipeline and how it could affect Colorado’s future energy development,
  • The proposed EPA changes for water use and energy efficiencies,
  • Patent reform’s role in innovation and business health, and
  • Issues before the National Labor Relations Board.

Boeing’s John Frederick, Director for State and Local Government Operations, who is based in St. Louis, Missouri, gave a conference-call presentation to the Council on the importance of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and why Congress will likely go down to the wire before re-authorizing the Bank.  Following a discussion, the Council agreed that a Council letter should be sent to each member of the Colorado Congressional delegation in support of re-authorization of the Bank.

The Council members discussed various problems surrounding the issue of patents, including how “demand letters” from “patent trolls” are hurting Colorado businesses.  The Council identified potential Federal and State actions for CACI to take on the patent issue.

Representatives of utilities and energy providers discussed the potential impacts of proposed EPA rules, including examples of potential direct effects to the companies and the industry as a whole.

Leah discussed the remainder of the 2014 Congressional calendar, the House leadership elections–Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was yesterday elected House Majority Leader–and highlighted just a few of the ways in which the Colorado Legislature differs from Congress.  Leah said she will soon send a “save-the-date” announcement to the Council about its next meeting, to be held in July.

CACI Attends Representative DeGette’s Roundtable on Business Issues

This week, Representative Diana DeGette (D-First Congressional District) hosted a roundtable on various business issues, which was attended by Leah Curtsinger, CACI Federal Policy Representative.  The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss how best to reach consumers about recalls and how to engage businesses in improving the corporate culture.   Other organizations that were represented included CoPIRG and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association.

Congresswoman DeGette serves as Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.  This House Energy and Commerce sub-committee held a hearing Wednesday and is leading the investigation into GM’s recent vehicle recalls, specifically focusing on why several major defects tied to consumer deaths took as much as ten years to be recalled.  So far this year, GM has recalled 20 million cars due to ignition/key problems