Afternoon Headlines July 19, 2017

The field for Colorado’s first wide-open governor’s race in decades might not be settled, but another lap in the horse race is complete. This week, candidates posted their second-quarter fundraising numbers, showing who has been able to rake in the dough early in the season. Add up the cash in the race so far and it reaches a total of $5.7 million— and could shape up as the most expensive Colorado governor’s race in state history. Of the money raised so far, candidates have already spent $1.2 million. By a 5-to-1 ratio, Democrats were able to haul in more campaign cash than their GOP counterparts as they dialed for dollars this spring— at least those who need to fund-raise. At least two multi-millionaire candidates plan to self-fund their campaigns. They are Republican businessman Victor Mitchell and Democratic Congressman Jared Polis.

Leading all candidates in fundraising for the past three months with $340,000 was former Democratic State Treasurer Cary Kennedy who is backed by EMILY’s list, a national group that supports women in politics. Former Democratic state senator Mike Johnston, a national figure in the education reform movement, was close behind. On the Republican side, retired investment banker Doug Robinson, who has never held elected office, led this quarter’s fundraising haul with $210,000.

George Brauchler, the Arapahoe-area district attorney who prosecuted the Aurora theater shooter, raised about $190,000. The field for governor likely isn’t settled, and given there was no clear breakout on the Republican side in the second-quarter of fundraising, there is likely plenty of money out there to be had to should others jump in. Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter of Arvada dropped out of the race after raising about $340,000, saying he didn’t have it in him to campaign for governor and serve in Congress. He said his colleague Polis getting in the race also was a factor.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive national group that draws lawmakers and lobbyists together to come up with legislation that often benefits corporate interests, is meeting in Denver this week. Known as ALEC, the group is holding its 44th annual meeting, this time at Denver’s downtown Hyatt Regency, and started off with closed-door sessions that allowed lawmakers and lobbyists to hammer out legislation on K-12 and higher education, high-speed Internet access, tax policy, energy and the environment, and health and human services. The group’s presence in Denver drew protests. Earlier today demonstrators marched from the state Capitol to the hotel, mostly protesting against the scheduled appearance by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, an ALEC supporter who will speak at the conference on Thursday. The conference continues through Friday.

Colorado joined 13 other states last week in embracing the goals of the Paris climate accords. Governor John Hickenlooper announced an executive order that identifies a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent before 2025. Hickenlooper’s order identifies shifting more electrical production from coal plants to renewables, something already underway, as well as a plan by January to ramp up the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, using at least a portion of Colorado’s 68 million-dollar share of the 15 billion dollars Volkswagen must pay for cheating on its diesel emissions. But for all the praise for the governor’s action, there are equal parts skepticism, much of which revolves a question the executive order does not even attempt to answer. What are the concrete steps needed to meet the goal the order spells out? Cuts will have to come from more than one sector. The 2014 Colorado Climate Plan says electrical production was responsible for 25 to 35 percent of Colorado’s greenhouse gases, and transportation 25 percent. Fuels used for residential, commercial and industrial purposes make up 21 percent. Natural gas production and transmission and agriculture came next, followed by methane emissions. “We need both good goals and good actions to get there,” Stephen Saunders of Colorado Communities for Climate Action, told The Colorado Independent. “Nothing has started yet in terms of concrete action.”

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