September 2016 Aurora Magazine Cover
Quidnunc, who gets his name from the Latin “what now,” brings you news overheard in elevators, restrooms and spied in various e-mail boxes.

QUID HAS HEARD YOU, Colorado. It’s because I’m eavesdropping. It’s my job, my passion, my addiction.

For those of you who haven’t been glued to one of the oldest fish-wrappers in the state, The Aurora Sentinel, allow me to introduce myself. I am Quidnunc, chief canard for that wanton rag. I am veritable veracity frosted in wit. I am your humble servant and seek only to tell what I know so you can draw your own conclusions.

My identity is nearly a state secret so to keep the rivers of revelation flowing into my email box and voice-mail. And I remain anonymous for fear my own family would abandon me in a heartbeat having at long last a solid reason to do so. So I remain Colorado’s confidant and confessor. And when has the services of a subtle tattler ever been more sorely needed? You can’t believe a thing you hear or read on the tee-vee or on the intertubes. Both sides of every race and issue fastidiously assert their own righteousness and accuracy. The election from nearly the top of the ticket to the bottom has become an increasingly dark comedy, in nearly comic-book melodrama proportions. Whom to believe? So, dear reader, this is what I’ve heard. You be the judge.

Who's your hero, America? One of these two firebrands are headed to the White House to save us. Illustration by Seth Shatland.

The Main Event

QUID HAS HEARD that there’s nothing sadder than people who either don’t know or don’t care how fabulously annoying they are. That two of such specimens would find themselves running as presidential nominees for the country’s top parties is incredulous.


You knew Hillary Clinton when she was but a young annoying girl. In the third grade, you remember, she sat two rows over and raised her hand every time the teacher asked a question, blurting out the answer as she waggled her hand to and fro. At lunch, she made seating assignments and recalled how she’d been shot at on her way to school that morning. She was the little girl from down the street that appeared one day on your porch, explaining who she was and then awkwardly wouldn’t leave for more than a hour sometimes. “Who is she?” became a regular refrain.


We all knew Donald Trump and everyone disliked him. He never raised his hand in class and just blurted out thoughts that could easily have been indigestion. He copied answers from the kid in front of him, not knowing that they were almost always wrong. When the teacher would randomly call on him and ask things like, “What’s the capital of New York,” he would make a funny face and exclaim, “Oh I know what the capital of New York is, and I’m going to start telling you what the capital of New York is. In fact, I’m going to tell you what the capital of New York is so much you’re going to be sick of hearing it.” When the teacher pressed harder for an answer, he said, “We’re going to look into that.”

At lunch, he sat at a crowded table of white kids that kept looking and smiling at him, hoping his good fortune would rub off. And here we are, about 60 years later. Hillary still has all the answers, and Trump is still looking into things.

That’s the most normal part of this very abnormal presidential race. Of course, dear, faithful reader, you’ve been watching this story stew over the past few years. It’s actually been closer to watching mold grow on cheese. Imagine, if you can, trying to explain who these two superheroes are to the voter just coming out a decades long coma. “Well, Hillary Clinton is the wife of a president from about 20 years ago who was impeached because he got caught lying about having oral sex with an intern in the Oval Office. She went on to be a U.S. senator from New York, Hillary, not the intern, even though she wasn’t from there and

then ran for president. But she lost to a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. Yes, really. But he made her secretary of state and she got dark glasses and flew all over the world and then quit to run for president. And then all hell broke loose because she ran all of her official email on a server she kept at her house.  But the bad part was that she might have thrown away work-related emails when she trashed 30,000 emails that came from sales at Kohl’s or something. But she beat a socialist for the Democratic nomination a couple of months ago. Yup, a real socialist. Trump is a guy with a thick New York accent that never ran for anything before, although he’s had much experience running from things: ex wives, businesses, girls he groped and workers he’s stiffed after several bankruptcies, dogs that know a bad thing when they smell it. He was a reality TV star that fired people. It’s hard to explain. He used to be a Democrat but now he’s not and beat 13 other Republicans for the nomination after telling people he wants to ship 11 million or so illegal immigrants back to Latin America, build a giant wall on the Mexican border, ban Muslims from coming to the United States, and thinks taco salads are Mexican food.

It seems that Hillary has focused on assuming the Oval Office her entire life, accidentally marrying a man with the same ambitions. Whereas Trump has focused on everything else his entire life and ran out of things to do. Is this really all so hard to believe? It’s not as if Trump said women should be punished for having abortions. Well, I guess he did. And I guess Hillary has managed to inspire the masses herself with quips like, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” Quid wouldn’t dream of it. Her superpower status first began to fray when she recalled a trip she took to Bosnia as first lady with daughter Chelsea. “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” There was no fire, but she did get the country right.

And despite still being that annoying odd girl, she has a sense of humor about her time in the trenches and other episodes of life in the gaffe lane. Like the time she ran for president the first time and rode with the press crew following her campaign. She got on the intercom and said, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome aboard the maiden flight of Hill Force One. My name is Hillary and I am so pleased to have most of you on board,” reporters recalled. “FAA regulations prohibit the use of any cell phones, BlackBerries, or wireless devices that may be used to transmit a negative story about me.”

That didn’t work. Trump, while he says things so outrageous that even his own fans drop their jaws in shock and awe, has been known to toss a few legitimate smile lines himself during the campaign that seems will never end. “I hope that some day I will apologize in the very distant future if I am actually ever wrong,” Trump once told late-night host Jimmy Fallon.

Ha, ha, ha. That’s about as funny as the race for president has gotten this time.


Down The Ballot

QUID HAS HEARD that you’re very familiar with who’s running for Congress in Aurora’s very own 6th Congressional District: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Mike Coffman

Well, technically, there’s incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, and state Sen. Morgan Carroll, a Democrat. But when you actually spell it out like that, whew, what a mouthful. All you really need to know — at least, according to the respective campaigns — is that Mike Coffman is tethered to Trump, now America’s most famous boat anchor since Benedict Arnold. Morgan Carroll? She’s has no mind of her own because it’s been taken over by Hillary Clinton, who prods at it almost daily while musing about Colorado with her clan of winged monkeys.

Hate Hillary? Vote Coffman. Despise Trump? Vote Carroll. It’s really so much simpler that way, don’t you agree?

Morgan Carroll

Only Coffman — despite his history of paying lip service to the tea-partyin’, Trump-trained bigots who insist on seeing long-form birth certificates — has put in a good deal of work to pivot away from the Tancredo wing of Colorado’s Republican Party and instead carve out a niche unto himself. Having studied up on his Spanish and reversing previous positions on immigration reform, the last thing the Marine veteran and former Colorado secretary of state wants to do is immediately get lumped in with the Donald when it comes to supporting hard-line nativist, anti-Muslim, closed-borders policy. When Coffman isn’t issuing a fortnightly call for the current Veterans Affairs secretary to resign (he’s one for two, so far), he’s the Republicans’ Tom Joad of non-white voters. Wherever there’s a mixer or weekend festival of recently emigrated Aurorans or newly christened naturalized citizens, he’ll be there.

By the time you read this, it’s entirely possible that not a single one of the Democratic campaign officials for Carroll — and they’re plentiful, as Dems pour money into giving Hillary a friendly majority in Congress — will have sent out a single attack on Coffman without referencing either Trump or the Koch Bros., who were treated to a talk from Coffman at a Colorado Springs retreat that Mike raced to while also reaching out to Asian-American voters at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival that same weekend. I need to take a breath.

Lest I make you think the Democrats are the only unimaginative bunch in this race, consider also that Mike Coffman has one hulking foe in this and every race — bigger than the CD6 Democrat du jour, bigger than Hillary Clinton, bigger than perhaps ISIS. I’m talking about Nancy Pelosi, the one-time Speaker now Spectre of the House. Coffman’s handlers have, for years now, regularly invoked the big, bad grannie from San Francisco to help mobilize Coffman’s supporters to empty their wallets. Why, you ask? Quid hates to speculate, but OK, if you insist. Quid once ambushed a top Coffman aide in a parking garage with a doll dressed up like Coffman to point out just where Pelosi hurt him — they had none of it. That tells me one thing: It’s a deep, psychological wound, the kind so many other American heroes face long after their tours of duty have ended: Pelosi Traumatic Stress.

Coffman undoubtedly has some kind of position on the issues. Maybe somebody will actually talk about them someday. But let’s get to something more important: Who is Morgan Carroll, and why is it important to gloss over it all and create a Pavlovian trigger to see Hillary Clinton at every mention of the longtime Aurora legislator?

If there’s one truth in political writing in 2016, it’s that all politics isn’t local — it’s “Game of Thrones.” And anyone familiar with HBO’s cinematic song of dragons and nudity, Carroll is a real-world analogue for the eternal do-gooder warrior Brienne of Tarth, ready to charge into whatever legislative battle is in front of her, and equally ready to move onto the next when it gets cut down due to not being able to win any bipartisan support. Trying to get red-light cameras banned statewide? Carroll was standing right there when Gov. John “Melisandre” Hickenlooper plunged a veto pen straight through the measure’s chest. Making oil and gas drillers liable when they contaminate the land and groundwater below with spills? Carroll was just as noble and woe-befallen as the Amazonian knight, never questioning the political wisdom of pushing yet another sure-to-fail campaign while keeping one eye on a congressional campaign.

The only difference between Carroll and Gwendoline Christie’s guard of kings? “Game of Thrones” is guaranteed two more seasons, while Carroll will need to win this seat in the Sixth to stay in the political game, as she’s term limited in the state Senate.

This is where Quid interjects that she may be the patron saint of Those in Blue, but she’s a lawyer, as her critics are fast to point out. Not as bad as a journalist, but more unpalatable than a meter maid.


But this is all just nonsense, and yours truly apologizes. Nobody wants to know what issues Carroll championed or her legal background. She’s with Team Hillary, good or bad. Carroll will proudly stand up and tweet out “#ImWithHer” — just so long as you don’t have to bring up anything involving foreign policy, even when it’s a golden opportunity to land a solid rhetorical blow on Coffman. When Coffman recently stepped in the proverbial dung heap by parroting Trump on U.S.-Iranian relations, Coffman’s team wouldn’t go near it, lest they voluntarily open themselves up to a counter-attack over Clinton’s work on Iran during her time at the State Department.

Same goes for Coffman. He’s a red-blooded Republican, through and through. He’s been tested on foreign battlefields and is a decisive leader who will absolutely stand up to a Trump White House — just don’t pressure him too hard on who he’ll actually vote for for president. It’s a big call to make, one that his foes for and against The Donald are anxious to get into a last-minute TV ad.

AND QUID HAS HEARD THAT all of Colorado press feels bad even digging into the U.S. Senate race, and your faithful hack is no exception.

Is it cosmic justice for the Donald Trump fiasco, or is it the rightful re-aligning of the political stars after Colorado voters sent Mark Udall packing simply for going a little heavy on attacking Cory Gardner’s record on reproductive rights?


By all rights, Udall would still be Colorado’s senior statesman in the United States Senate if not for a complete inability to respond in any meaningful way after Gardner & Co. dubbed him “Mark Uterus” for going all-in on Gardner’s anti-abortion record.

In much the same way, Sen. Michael Bennet’s tenure in Washington, D.C. seems improbably long, at one term. Then-Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck — Bennet’s foe in the 2010 election, now congressman from Colorado’s 4th District — snatched defeat from the jaws of a Republican tide victory to ensure Bennet a full term of his own after stepping into the seat vacated by cowboy hat aficionado and center-right Democratic maverick Ken Salazar.

Darryl Glenn

Few people outside of Hillary Clinton campaign officials and Washington Post writers took one look at Bennet and said, “Now *THERE* is a sure thing!” Bennet walked into the job on the heels of the LIBOR scandal from his time as Denver Public Schools superintendent. Yes, he had a young, photogenic family at the time then-Gov. Bill Ritter picked him; and yes, he can pull off the jeans-and-rolled-up-sleeves image of a Colorado pol as well as anyone. If the nerd chemical “poindextrose” — as discovered by the fictional Lisa on “The Simpsons” — were real, Bennet would certainly be unable to mask the odor. That he hasn’t been wedgied and swirlied by the Capitol’s biggest bullies since 2009 is the only semblance of decorum left in Congress. He speaks with the rousing cadence of a Dachshund attempting to bark with a mouth full of cotton balls.

On the other side is Colorado Springs County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who walloped a herd of Republicans damned sure Bennet was toast. Glenn won the famous GOP spot by singing Trump’s praises at the top of his lungs, and he hasn’t stopped and can’t stop now. And the problem there is that Glenn doesn’t hear how tone deaf Trump and his noisy cover really are, and how so few in Colorado like that sort of music.

Simply put, this was supposed to be the year Bennet left the Senate — either through losing his seat to the GOP nominee or getting conscripted by President Clinton for an administration gig.