Compiled by Eric Lubbers,
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning once more from the land of ice and snow. I hope you had a great weekend moving from the box of warm air you sleep in to other boxes of warm air via your box of warm air on wheels, or however you ended up spending it. If you happened to be able to avoid Interstate 70, you definitely had a decent weekend compared to the people who were trapped after a pair of stunning avalanches stopped traffic (check out the video at KDVR).

We’ve got a lot to get to today, so let’s salt this sidewalk, shall we?

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The Latest from The Sun



Hickenlooper is running (for real)

After John Frank broke the news last week of former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s campaign obtaining a permit for a “celebration” on March 7, Hickenlooper confirmed that the event on Thursday in Civic Center Park will indeed be his formal announcement that he’s seeking the presidency.

>> Read John Frank’s fresh interview with Hickenlooper, including hints at some of his policy positions, here.

MORE: The Associated Press writes about the move by governors like Hickenlooper who are trying to make a more bipartisan name for themselves in a field filled with more blatantly partisan senators. Meanwhile, Skye, Hickenlooper’s rescue dog, has officially been added to Quartz’s up-to-date listing of the dogs of the 2020 presidential race.


As Colorado lawmakers consider abolishing the death penalty, a look at the state’s history of capital punishment

“I think the death penalty is an absolutely permanent determination. Judges and juries can make mistakes.”

— Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County, one of the leaders of the repeal charge

After efforts to abolish the death penalty in Colorado failed in the legislature in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2017, Democrats in the legislature are mounting another attempt to repeal capital punishment. The issue has no clear party line split, despite Democratic control of both chambers and the governor’s office, meaning that the debate could be one of the most tense in the session. In the first piece of The Colorado Sun’s project exploring the death penalty, Jesse Paul lays out the particular facets of this issue in Colorado.

>> Read Jesse Paul’s deep dive into the issue to prepare for the coming debate.


“I witnessed the state impose the death sentence on Gary Lee Davis.”

Colorado Sun writer Kevin Simpson was one of the few people to witness Colorado’s only state execution in the past 63 years. In this personal reflection, Kevin writes about how he reported on the event, including his time spent in Cañon City before the execution witnessing how a local economy and culture powered by the prison reckoned with the morality of the act.

>> Read Kevin’s account, including the shock of the event itself, here.


“Those scars will always be there”: Rhonda Fields’ son was murdered by two of the three men on Colorado’s death row

State Sen. Rhonda Fields dove into politics after the murder of her son Javad Marshall Fields and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe. Two of the three men on Colorado’s death row were convicted in the murder, and as her party works up an effort to abolish the death penalty, which she disagrees with, she told Jesse Paul that she plans to be “vocal and … honest” during the coming debate.

>> Read Jesse’s interview with FIelds to see her legal and emotional take on capital punishment.


TIMELINE: Explore Colorado’s history of capital punishment by the numbers

“The first murderer to be executed in Colorado — 160 years ago this April — was hanged from a cottonwood tree near Cherry Creek after a legal process that took all of three days to go from crime to punishment.” That’s how John Ingold’s timeline of the state’s rocky relationship with capital punishment begins. Besides the timeline of major events in the state’s history, John pulled statistics on the death penalty, from county to race to how often death penalty cases actually end in a death sentence.

>> Explore the timeline, including how many times Colorado has banned the death penalty already, here.

MORE: As part of John’’s timeline, I built a searchable database of all 134 cases where Colorado prosecutors pursued the death penalty since its return in 1979 (it’s at the bottom of the story above, or you can click here to see it in full-screen).


From the Opinion Page



“The Colorado Senate used to be O&G’s goalie, blocking any meaningful reform. But for the past eight years, the governor, a Democrat, was even more effective. John Hickenlooper was the Patrick Roy of the oil and gas industry.”

// The Colorado Sun welcomes to the opinion page former Boulder Daily Camera opinion editor Dave Krieger, whose first contribution is a deep look at Colorado’s relationship with the oil and gas industry as Democrats propose reform.

// We have dueling columns on Crisanta Duran’s announcement that she will take on Diana DeGette in a primary. Diane Carman warns Democrats to avoid their “circular firing squads” in the upcoming primary struggle, and Mario Nicolais highlights the similarities — and major differences — between Duran’s effort and the one that made U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez one of the most influential politicians in the country.

// John Roble, the president of Cigna Mountain States, argues that loneliness is a growing threat to public health in Colorado.


// JUST IN: Colorado Republican strategist Kyle Forti was one of the four Americans and a local pilot who died in a helicopter crash in Kenya. // The Colorado Sun

// The bill by Colorado Democrats containing big changes for oil and gas drilling in the state has been revealed. // The Colorado Sun

// “There shall be no discussion of dancing with the angels, being healed, cured or other such ableist language. I will come back to haunt anyone who allows that to happen.” Tina Griego has a fierce obituary for disability-rights advocate Carrie Ann Lucas. // The Colorado Independent

// Denver will be able to continue homeless camp sweeps — with at least a week’s notice and a host of other concessions — as part of a settlement of a class-action suit against the city. // The Denver Post

// It’s worth keeping an eye on this battle over a water pipeline in Northern Colorado. Things could get ugly: “Without approval to pump its water through Larimer County, Thornton is building a pipeline to nowhere in Weld// The Greeley Tribune

// An 86-year-old Palisade resident tied herself to one of her beloved blue spruce trees to (unsuccessfully) try to stop them from being cut down for a subdivision. This is a great (and heartbreaking) story. // Grand Junction Daily Sentinel


Today’s Thing



Editor’s note: Do you have a thing that you just can’t shut up about? Email and you could be featured in an upcoming Sunriser!

The Thing: This extremely simple Brussels sprout recipe. (link)

Why You Might Like It: One of the best things about knowing a weekend snowstorm is coming is that if you time it just right, you can hit the grocery store and stock up on hearty, nourishing comfort food to sustain you without having to get back in the car. For me, that used to include things like pizza rolls and orange-frosted cinnamon rolls (who am I kidding, I’m looking at a plate full of day-old orange cinnamon rolls right now). But this time I was more excited about, of all things, a chance to make those Brussels sprouts again. It’s the closest I’ve come to replicating charred, salty restaurant sprouts at home and it goes great with this recipe for meatloaf (the trick is to get your oven at about 375 degrees to split the difference and cook both at the same time).

And there we go, you’re off to the races for a cold-but-productive week. I’m about to go crawl under my car to try to fix the electrical system, so when I tell you to have a good day, it’s a plea so I can live vicariously through you, not just idle well-wishes.

Don’t forget to share the stories you read with your network far and wide and tell at least three people about The Sunriser before we reconvene on Wednesday. Thanks in advance!


Eric Lubbers

Eric Lubbers is the Chief Technology Officer and one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun. A native of Yuma, Colorado, he writes The Sunriser newsletter in addition to handling most of the behind-the-scenes tech stuff. Email: