The Spot: COVID relief delayed, police oversight in Denver and new presidential election data

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The latest evidence of Colorado’s leftward trend arrived this week in the form of 2020 presidential results broken down by congressional district, calculated by Daily Kos.

In all seven Colorado districts, Joe Biden not only outperformed 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but also beat President Barack Obama’s performance from 2012. Again, this occurred in every congressional district.

Take, for example, the staunchly red 5th District in and around Colorado Springs. Obama received 38% there, and Clinton took an abysmal 33%. But Biden snagged 42% support. Put another way, Trump received 57.2% in 2016 but 54.7% in 2020.

The biggest Democratic gains were in the 6th and 7th districts, an unsurprising fact to anyone who has read Jon Murray’s work on the political transformation of Denver’s suburbs. In the Aurora-based 6th, Biden beat Obama’s mark by seven percentage points and Clinton’s by eight. In the western and northern suburbs that make up the 7th, Biden topped Obama by four and Clinton by nearly nine.

In Denver’s 1st District, Obama and Clinton both received a nice 69%, but Biden improved that to 76%. In the northern 2nd District, with its two college towns, Biden won with 64%, compared to Clinton’s 56% and Obama’s 58% in 2012.

One positive sign for Republicans is that the 3rd District, likely to be a congressional battleground in 2022, hasn’t changed much in how it picks presidents. Obama lost the Western Slope and southern district with 46%, Clinton lost with 40%, and Biden lost with slightly more than 46%. Democrats might need redistricting help next year to win there.

Want to dig deeper into some election data? Of course you do. Check out Colorado Community Media’s deep dive into precinct-based data in Adams County.

Elsewhere in this week’s Spot: Conrad Swanson writes about the departure of Denver’s longtime independent monitor, Nick Mitchell, and Saja Hindi looks at how this week’s congressional stimulus package will affect Colorado.


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Top Line

Citizens passionate about fair elections will come together over the next year to painstakingly plot out the political lines that will govern state and federal races for the next decade — without fear or favor to partisan interests. At least, that’s the ideal set out by voter-passed constitutional amendments on redistricting that will be set in motion for the first time in 2021.

Capitol Diary • By Saja Hindi

Relief delayed

The $900 billion pandemic relief package approved by Congress this week brought some welcome news to Colorado state leaders, even if its fate is not totally clear with President Donald Trump’s latest public comments about the legislation.

But once again, the relief bill, if signed into law, wouldn’t fill all the gaps in the state’s needs.

The package includes a $600 stimulus check to U.S. citizens who made under $75,000 in 2019, as well as $600 per child. Unlike the previous package, mixed-immigrant status families could receive a check for each U.S. citizen parent and their children. If neither parent is a citizen, however, the citizen children wouldn’t receive the checks, either.

The relief bill also adds $300 a week to unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. It gives states more time to spend their coronavirus relief dollars, extends eviction protections, allows for more small business loan funding, gives money to K-12 education and child-care programs, and raises food stamp benefits. But the bill wouldn’t provide direct aid to state and local governments.

“Hardworking Coloradans, our schools, and our small businesses deserve real relief. This is an important step and one that will help our state and country build back stronger than before the pandemic,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. “I’m thankful to the majority of Colorado’s federal delegation who worked to pass this bipartisan COVID relief package and continue to urge Washington to provide additional help to those in need.”

Incoming House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat, commended Congress’ efforts but called them just a start.

“While I’m glad that this stimulus package will begin to chip away at the enormous need we have in our state, it’s clear that a great deal of work remains to be done,” he said. “I applaud and appreciate the efforts of the members of Colorado’s congressional delegation who fought for increased direct economic relief and aid to states and local governments, and I encourage Congress to pass this in the next bill.”

The $600 stimulus checks — now a Trump sticking point, as he pushes for more — have been met with frustration by many.

“Is this where we are all supposed to drop to our knees in gratitude for $600 and herald the miracle of bipartisanship?” asked Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, on Twitter. “Because, nah.”

Advocates and service providers in the state have similarly called for urgent federal assistance to help Colorado pay for services for its residents.

“Our communities need targeted investment, especially Black, Latino, Asian, Native, and immigrant communities that are becoming ill, dying, and losing jobs at higher rates,” wrote Hilary Glasgow of Colorado WINS, the state employees’ union. “Congress needs to work together to pass a relief bill that will inject funds into state and local governments, so Colorado can continue to deliver vital public services that keep our communities safe and our families healthy.”

The federal dollars are especially important following the state legislature’s limited emergency COVID relief special session, and now, this week’s decision to delay the 2021 session because of pandemic surge concerns.

More Colorado political news

  • What happened to Colorado’s Republican Party? Post reporters examine the party’s decline in influence.
  • Some Republican voters still doubt the integrity of Colorado’s elections.
  • Polis announced paid family medical leave for state employees.
  • The Trump campaign, Rudy Giuliani, and many others are being sued for defamation by a Dominion Voting Systems employee in Colorado.
  • Here’s how Coloradans in Congress voted on the latest COVID-19 relief package.
  • U.S. Rep. Ken Buck won’t seek another term as Colorado GOP chair. The congressman also won’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert’s staff will come from the Trump administration and Sen. Cory Gardner’s office.

Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson

Police and sheriff oversight in Denver

With a new sheriff in place, widespread credibility problems within the Denver Sheriff Department and a scathing report on the Denver Police Department’s handling of the George Floyd protests this summer, all eyes are on the city’s law enforcement agencies.

But one widely trusted watchdog will watch no longer.

Denver Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell, who since 2012 has overseen discipline of Denver’s law enforcement, investigated deaths at the hands of officers, and more, will step down next month. He’s headed to Los Angeles, where he has been appointed by a federal court to oversee reform in the jail system there.

There are a lot of people in Denver with a lot of opinions about law enforcement. But it’s difficult to find an unflattering comment cast in Mitchell’s direction. Replacing him will be difficult and it could come with a bit more reform.

First, the city will form a search committee to review candidates. That committee must include a representative from City Council, the chair of the Citizen Oversight Board, and a current or retired judge, among others. Already Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who has been critical of Denver’s law enforcement and has called for widespread change, has thrown her hat in the ring to be the council’s representative.

But the call is up to council President Stacie Gilmore, who did not return a message seeking comment.

The committee will send a list of candidates to Mayor Michael Hancock, whose pick will then go to the council for approval. It appears a supermajority of the council — nine of 13 members — could reject a candidate without fear of a veto from Hancock, if the group felt strongly enough about a single person.

But that’s off in the future. The search isn’t yet underway for Mitchell’s replacement.

Also off in the future could be some changes to the monitor’s position. CdeBaca and others have discussed whether the position should be an elected one. Or, perhaps, the position’s placement in the city’s public safety hierarchy could be changed, they’ve said.

In short, the monitor currently reports directly to the mayor. Some fear that could undercut the independence of the position and its role as watchdog.

While CdeBaca has said she’ll propose a few ways to strengthen the office, nothing concrete has been put before the council yet.

More Denver and suburban political news

  • “Viva la raza.” Such was the rallying cry of the Chicano movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and now a park in Denver’s Sunnyside will serve as a prominent reminder of that effort.
  • Denver’s mayor announced Friday that Public Safety Director Murphy Robinson will serve as the city’s deputy mayor next year.
  • Thousands of pit bulls in metro Denver are getting a reprieve from longstanding laws that target them, and the change of heart toward the dogs is happening with speed.
  • The Adams County coroner has told Broomfield County that her office will no longer provide services to its neighbor, the result of an apparent rift over questions raised by Broomfield officials about the handling of the probe into Elijah McClain’s death.

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