Kavanaugh scandal turns Colorado Senate race into #MeToo referendum


Colorado Republicans mocked Kavanaugh's accusers after trying to cover up their own sexual misconduct.

One year after the Colorado General Assembly was shaken by a sexual misconduct scandal, Republican leaders there are signaling not much has changed.

GOP managers in the House and Senate were recently caught belittling the sexual assault allegations leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"In a Facebook post dated Saturday, Sept. 15, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville shared a link to a story from the Babylon Bee, a Christian news satire website, with the headline 'Exclusive Report: Kavanaugh May Have Cheated While Playing "The Floor Is Lava" As A Child,'" Colorado Public Radio reported.

"Republican Rep. Kevin Van Winkle liked Neville’s post, so did Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert."

Democrats in the Assembly quickly demanded that both men who mocked the Kavanaugh allegations participate in mandatory sexual harassment and diversity training.

This embarrassing revelation might remind Colorado voters of just how differently the two parties handled previous allegations of misconduct.

Republicans are currently trying to maintain their thin, one-seat margin in the Senate in November. To do this, they will have to fend off five key Democratic women whose victories could tip the balance of power.

One of those Democrats, Faith Winter, helped initiate a reckoning over sexual harassment in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in 2017.

Winter accused her Democratic colleague, Representative Steve Lebsock, of sexually harassing her, and demanded action against him. Thanks to Winter's courage and persistence, Lebsock became the first House member in a century to be expelled.

That ignited a more widespread scandal, as five legislators were hit with claims of sexual harassment.

But only Democrats seemed to be concerned about rooting out entrenched sexism in the state legislature.

"In the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate, there was a very different result," Colorado Pol notes. "Credible and thoroughly investigated allegations of harassment against Republican Senators were systematically downplayed by the GOP leadership of the chamber."

Instead of shining a light and holding representatives accountable, Republicans moved to protect their own by suppressing the investigation of Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

"A onetime intern says the Hot Sulphur Springs Republican made inappropriate sexual remarks to her and tried to get her to drink with him in his office," Westword reported. Baumgardner was also accused of slapping the behind of a former female aide multiple times.

In the end, the Republican-controlled Senate voted not to expel Baumgardner.

As the Kavanaugh scandals unfold in Washington, D.C., and as Republicans there rush to protect one of their own, five Democratic women are trying to win back the Colorado Senate and make sure things turn out differently for women in their state.