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Colorado's off-year election will be this Tuesday, November 1st, a week before the rest of the country's off-year elections. There is a statewide ballot measure, Proposition 103.  The other important races are the Aurora mayoral election and the Jefferson County School Board, where the Republicans are trying to politicize the non-partisan elections.  And for those of you in one of the following areas, where there are propositions to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, make sure to vote (and vote no): Fort Collins, Palisades, Brush, Yampa, Oak Creek, Steamboat Springs, and Unincorporated Routt County.  Otherwise, you'll end up like this:

IMPORTANT UPDATE: User stealthisbook astutely found another case of the GOP meddling in school board elections and I have found a couple more myself.  See bottom of the page for updates.

Aurora Mayor:
Mayor Ed Tauer (R) is term-limited.
Candidates:
Former Councilman and state Rep. Steve Hogan (R)
Councilman and 2010 CO-7 LOSER!! Ryan Frazier (R)
Former state Rep. Debbie Stafford (D)
Former RTD Director and School Board Member Barbara Yamrick (I)
Businessman Jude Sandvall (R)
Sheilah Thomas Davis (Libertarian)

Background: The race is obstenibly non-partisan, but with former elected officials and candidates running, it's hard to keep it that way.  Tauer's term-limit ends a 20-year Tauer dynasty (he succeeded his father Paul as mayor).  He hasn't endorsed in the race, but his dad endorsed Hogan.  Democratic turnout in off-years is anemic in minority-heavy Aurora, which allows Republicans to dominate the city.  Some of the Republican councilmen represent districts dominated by Democrats all the way down to the state legislature, so it's not like many of these areas actually vote Republican.  However, some Democratic support is still needed, which is why moderates like Tauer and Hogan tend to win.  Hogan and Frazier are considered the frontrunners.  Stafford became a Democrat during her final term in the legislature, Sandvall is a far-right nut, and the rest are longshots.  The only poll released in the race is a Frazier internal conducted by Republican pollster Magellan on August 1-2.  It had Frazier leading with 27%, Hogan with 14%, and Stafford with 11%, with the other polling at 4% or below.  Hogan has been endorsed by the Denver Post, the AFL-CIO, former Republican Gov. Bill Owens, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, former Mayor Paul Tauer, and state Sen. Nancy Spence, possibly the only legitimate moderate Republican remaining in the legislature.  Perlmutter likely did this just to piss off his 2010 opponent, Frazier, but Hogan is also probably the best candidate for the job.
Recommendation: Steve Hogan
Rating: Tossup/Tilt Hogan

Jefferson County School Board
JeffCo is the LARGEST school district in Colorado.  If these two Republicans win, there will be a conservative majority.  This is very important!
Summary: I normally don't care about these races, but the Jefferson County Republican Party has stepped forward to try to get two candidates elected.  The Republican Party is backing Preston Branaugh and Jim Powers over the teachers union's preferred candidates, Democrats Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman.  After the Republicans pulled a similar trick in Douglas County a couple years ago, they gained control and passed an unconstitutional voucher program, which is currently on hold with the ACLU suing to have it stopped, but I don't want to take any chances with this happening again if the judges don't rule our way.  I don't have any prediction or rating for this one because I don't know enough about this low-level of offices.
Recommendation: Dahlkemper and Fellman

Proposition 103:
Summary: Prop 103, being pushed by state Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) seeks to increase state education funding by returning tax rates to pre-1999 levels for a five-year period, beginning in 2012.  The income tax would be increased from 4.63% to 5% and the sales tax would rise from 2.9% to 3.0%.  This is projected to raise an additional $2.9 billion over 5 years, including $536.1 million in FY2012.  The proposition sets the $4.3 billion budgeted for education in FY2011 as a minimum, and also requires that all money raised from the tax increase also be directed to public education in addition to the $4.3 billion already set aside.

Election Background:
The main organization supporting it, Support Schools for a Bright Colorado, has raised $420K and has $181K CoH as of the last filing report on October 17.    It began running this TV ad on 10/17 in the Denver market during newscasts on broadcast stations as well as on some cable channels.

The main group opposing it, Compass Colorado, was just formed a couple weeks ago, so there aren't details on the money side, but so far it has done statewide robo-calls and ran a one-week radio ad in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction.  It also ran a 10-day, $60K TV spot from 10/21-30 in Jefferson County against state Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) highlighting her support of Prop 103.  Another opposition group, Too Taxing for Colorado, is airing radio ads in four markets: Denver Metro Area, the Western Slope, Larimer and Weld Counties, and El Paso County, in addition to statewide robo-calls.  As of the last filing report, it had raised just $12K and had spent $1K on radio ads, but that has likely increased by a large amount.

The last time Colorado held a statewide off-year election was 2005, when Referendum C, which suspended TABOR tax refunds for 5 years, was on the ballot.  It passed with 52.1% of the vote after an expensive and hard-fought campaign, with supporters spending $8 million and opponents spending $3.5 million.  Clearly, the amount spent Prop 103 pales in comparison, which suggests it is unlikely to pass.  Colorado conservatives are usually going nuts about any tax increase and the fact that the opposition seems to be minimal here suggests it is unlikely to pass.  Secondly, Referendum C was a legislatively-referred initiative, passing the State House 46-19 (including 11 Republicans) and passing the State Senate 26-9 (including 8 Republicans).  It also had the support of popular Republican Gov. Bill Owens and Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.  Prop 103, on the other hand, has virtually no Republican support and popular Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has declined to take a side on the initiative.  Heading into the final weekend, the Secretary of State's numbers show that party registration for those who have turned in their is 42% Republican, 33% Democrat, and 24% unaffiliated.  For comparison, the state's active voter registration (meaning people who voted in 2010 or registered since then) is 37% Republican, 33% Democrat, and 29% unaffiliated.  All of this evidence hints to me it will fail.
Recommendation: Yes
Rating: Likely Fails

More School Boards: (important!)
Weld County School District 6 (Greeley/Evans) (h/t stealthisbook)
4-year Term (vote for 3):
Incumbents: Mark Hinz (R) & Julia Richard (D)
Ken Buck and state Sen. Scott Renfroe endorsed two ultra-conservative challengers: Republicans Brett Elliott and Geoff Broughton.  It is imperative that these two do not win.  There are three other Republican challengers, Logan Richardson, Tim Pike, and Doug Lidiak, who was appointed to the board in 2009, but lost re-election that fall.  There are also 4 Democratic challengers: Suzanne Doerner, Richard Reilly, Ed Spindler, and former board member Marlene Schuman.  All seem like good progressives, but there isn't enough room for all of them.  Of the Democratic challengers, it would be preferable to coalesce around two candidates, in addition to Richard. If forced to support a Republican to keep Elliott and Broughton off the board, Lidiak seems relatively moderate, and Hinz seems at least rational, but still not preferable.  My take of the Democrats is that Schuman seems like a little too much of a power-hungry politician (and I'm not one to use that often) having been previously term-limited in 2007 and now seeking re-election 4 years later.  Reilly's political positions seem great, but he is only 21 years old and seems like a flame-thrower, having tried to recall two board members for a no real reason.  Spindler and Doerner, however, seem both very qualified and progressive.  FWIW, I got all this information from here.
Recommendation: 1st, Re-elect Julia Richard.  2nd, of the Democratic challengers, my top choices would be Suzanne Doerner and Ed Spindler.  3rd, make sure Renfroe and Broughton lose, even if it means voting for Lidiak
2-year Term (vote for 1):
Buck and Renfroe are backing teabagger Scott Rankin (R).  One other Republican, Jean Daviet, will appear on the ballot, but has dropped out.  The two Democrats are former teacher Tannis Bator and former board member Valerie Leal-Whitehead.  They both seem good, but this is another case where a split field can be bad.  I'll go with Bator here because the school district has sucked and Leal-Whitehead was on the board, but I'm sure it wasn't necessarily her fault.
Recommendation: Tannis Bator

Adams 12 Five Star Schools
District 1: Antonio Esquibel (D) vs. Norm Jennings (R).  Democrat Phil Corn is listed on the ballot but has withdrawn.
Recommendation: Antonio Esquibel

Adams County District 50
At-large (vote for 3): Democrats: Richard Pabon and Dino Valente; Republicans: James Bonner, Robert Landgraf, and Ruben Pacheco; Independent: Anthony Sisneros
Pabon, Landgraf, and Sisneros have been endorsed by STAND, so Sisneros seems credible enough in addition to the Democrats.
Recommendation: Pabon, Valente, and Sisneros

Brighton School District 27J
District 3: Russell Carr (R) vs. Donna Petrocco (I)
District 6: Virginia Guzman (D) is the incumbent.  Challengers are Stanley Hiller (D), Audrey Slorf (R), and Michael Boutwell (I)
Recommendations: Petrocco for District 1 and Guzman for District 6

Douglas County School Board
District A: Craig Richardson (R), Kevin Reilly, and Susan Meek
Reilly strongly opposes the voucher program and union-busting and supports Prop 103.  District C: Kevin Larsen (R) vs. Gail Frances
Frances also strongly opposes the voucher program and supports Prop 103.
District F: Justin Williams (R) vs. Susan McMahon
McMahon is opposed to the voucher program.
Despite being a Republican stronghold, the voucher program is not very popular in Douglas County.  It has roughly 50/50 support, but the opposition is much more motivated, and many are appalled that it passed unanimously with a 9-0 vote despite such fierce opposition, giving the voucher opponents a shot at winning in this conservative area.  Take in mind, however, that Michael Bennet won only 3 precincts in the entire county, so I'm not holding my breath.
Recommendations: Reilly, Frances, and McMahon

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Comment Preferences

  •  Any recs on Denver school board? Eom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, Tiger in BlueDenver

    The Elephant. The Rider. The Path. Figure those out and change will come.

    by Denver11 on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 01:40:33 AM PDT

    •  For what its worth (0+ / 0-)

      This is going to be from a union/progressive perspective:

      If you live in District 1 (SE Denver, more or less):  Emily Sirota, who is heavily underfunded but a major advocate of liberal arts education and a major opponent of NCLB and mandatory testing in general.

      If you live in District 5 (NW Denver):  This race is UGLY.  The union/progressive candidate is Arturo Jimenez and the reform candidate is Jennifer Draper-Carson.  Both campaigns have slung more mud than at a mud-wrestling match.  I have friends in the county Democratic Party supporting both, but I'd go with Jimenez.

      At large:  Allegra "Happy" Haynes WILL win.  That said, look up Roger Kilgore's videos.  I'm impressed.  I'm also very impressed with Frank Deserino, who is a genuine civics teacher with a great resume.  I'm not sure I'd mourn no matter who wins this, though a lot of businessman John Daniel's fundraising appears to be coming from GOP sources (but he's anti-test, which is good by me).

  •  Greeley school board-- (0+ / 0-)

    I just saw a mailer at my fiance's parents' house that had a slate of republican candidates with a quote from Ken Buck and an endorsement from Scott Renfroe. There wasn't a chance to snap a picture unfortunately.

    Anyhow, here's the list
    Bret Elliott
    Geoff Broughton
    Scott Rankin

  •  A good opportunity for 2012 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tiger in BlueDenver

    would be to push a repeal of TABOR on the referendum for that year (if it's unpopular).  I mean if the CO GOP pushed a tamp down of gay rights in 2004 to help conservative turnout....

    'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.' -Mahatma Gandhi

    by KingofSpades on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 07:30:38 AM PDT

    •  Is there any will to repeal TABOR? (0+ / 0-)

      Or is it already as engrained as Prop 13 is in California?

      'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.' -Mahatma Gandhi

      by KingofSpades on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:47:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  unlikely (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingofSpades

        TABOR itself isn't as bad as it's made out to be, although it could definitely use some fixes.  It really isn't that unpopular in Colorado.  We like the opportunity to vote on taxes and the spending cap.  I'm not a conservative, but I will admit the spending cap saved us from a California-style budget crisis after the dot-com bubble burst.  The best proposal thus far appeared on the ballot in 2008 as Amendment 59, which would have ended mandatory school funding increases, and would have put additional revenue exceeding spending limits (inflation plus population growth) in an education savings account rather than rebating it to the taxpayers, but it failed with 54.3% voting no.  TABOR really isn't much of a wedge issue, unless the wedge is between batshit crazy conservatives and conservatives.  Bill Owens destroyed his political future with Ref C.  Grover Norquist and Dick Armey (why would he choose to go by Dick with that name?) were calling for his head.

        •  Are you kidding? (0+ / 0-)

          There may not be the will to do it because people have sort of forgotten about it, I agree, but TABOR really is THAT BAD.  We can't increase taxes and, therefore, spending because of the ratchet down effects of TABOR, and that's why, despite being a relatively wealthy state, we're 50th in healthcare spending and nearly at the bottom in terms of education funding!

    •  other initiatives will push liberal turnout (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KingofSpades

      Legalizing pot will be on the ballot in 2012.  Even if they aren't as enthused by Obama as last time, young people will still turnout to vote for that.  Dem turnout was way down in Fort Collins (home to Colorado State University) and in ski country in 2010, but these ares will turnout for Obama, and even if he's unpopular, they'll turnout for pot.  Civil unions will also be on the ballot in all likelihood and will pass with over 70% of the vote.  Almost 60% of Republicans even support civil unions here, though apparently not in the legislature.  Hell, if the courts don't rule for equality first, I think Colorado will be the first state that passes marriage equality by popular vote.  This notion of gay-baiting doesn't work here.  It was actually 2006 when the GOP put those measures on the ballot, and the Dems still dominated that year.

      •  The only thing more galvanizing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tiger in BlueDenver

        than pot on the ballot would be another personhood amendment. A number of college kids that I know registered for the first time to vote down personhood and actively campaigned against it. The personhood proponents definitely shoot themselves in the foot as far as campuses are concerned since they pull these shock and shame campaigns with giant fetus posters, and that shocks people into opposition.

  •  Any runoffs? (0+ / 0-)

    Aurora could go to someone who wins with less than 1/3rd of the vote.

    •  Couldn't find any solid information online (0+ / 0-)

      But nobody is talking about it despite it being quite clear that nobody is getting 50% or even close to it, whereas with the previous Denver mayoral election everybody knew there would be a run-off well in advance.

      This should be an interesting election considering there are two strong elected Republicans running as well as a well-funded Republican outsider.

  •  Great clip! I liked that episode! NT (0+ / 0-)

    19, male, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -7.88, -4.26, With all the crap Scooter is doing, I should move, but that would be one less vote to end the FitzWalkerstanian police state by recalling Scott Walker!!!!

    by WisJohn on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 02:07:29 PM PDT

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