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GOP jumps at chance to paint Colorado Democrats as divided

Fight between ProgressNow and single-payer health reform proponents is red meat
Opposition this week from the state’s leading progressive group to a $25 billion single-payer health care ballot question resulted in public fights between Democrats. While the campaign season has been largely reserved for infighting within the Republican Party, the spat between Democrats this week offered the GOP a chance to shift the narrative.

DENVER – Republicans and their allies have seized on Democratic infighting over single-payer health reform to suggest that the party is “in tatters.”

Responses flooded in as ProgressNow Colorado had a very public fight Wednesday with single-payer health care proponents in Denver.

As cameras rolled in front of the ProgressNow Colorado office, Democrats bickered with one another over ProgressNow’s opposition to the ballot question. The fighting included dueling news conferences.

The scene in a Denver Uptown neighborhood was reminiscent of fights between Democrats at the national convention last month in Philadelphia, where Bernie Sanders supporters protested Hillary Clinton delegates.

For Colorado Republicans, the opportunity to paint a similar divide in the Centennial State was welcomed, especially considering the GOP has received the brunt of accusations of a fractured party thanks to Donald Trump.

“This ... shows despite the charade in Philadelphia, the Colorado Democratic Party is more divided than ever,” said Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House.

“ProgressNow’s feigned opposition to ColoradoCare is nothing short of a craven attempt to insulate vulnerable establishment Democrats from blowback by voters. While single-payer would be a disaster for Colorado’s economy and a sure loser this November, Democrats’ decision to play politics and fracture their base will be a disaster for their party.”

Republicans had their share of infighting at the GOP convention in Cleveland last month. Much of the divide was widened by delegates from Colorado, who attempted a coup against Trump and threw majority support behind Ted Cruz.

Democrats paid a lot of attention to that split, noting that in Colorado, Trump is not the preferred candidate. Democratic operatives and their allies have used that Trump uncertainty to attack Colorado Republican candidates.

But with the video of Colorado Democrats shouting at each other being shared on social media, and newspaper and broadcast reports highlighting the divide, Republicans finally had a chance to shift the attention, even if just briefly.

Advancing Colorado, a right-leaning advocacy group that has taken a prominent role opposing ColoradoCare, said the ballot question ignited “progressive-establishment warfare.”

Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado, another right-leaning advocacy group, reacted on Twitter, “You guys, the commie civil war is happening here in CO, and it’s everything I had ever hoped it would be #copolitics.”

Ian Silverii, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, shrugged off the attacks from Republicans.

“It’s unfortunate but totally predictable that the right wing would try to divide progressives in Colorado to distract from the historic losses they will face this November as a result of nominating a presidential candidate that is completely out of step with a huge majority of Coloradans,” Silverii said. “In fact, I’m sure they’ll do just about anything to avoid talking about Donald Trump and his burning dumpster fire of a campaign.

“While there are differences over how to achieve universal health care, progressives remain committed to this fight, as opposed to conservatives, who offer nothing other than dozens of failed votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Progressives will stand together, knowing that better health care is a priority – while Colorado conservatives offer nothing but Donald Trump, Darryl Glenn and an agenda of partisan political gridlock.”