Climate / Environment Reporter
Twitter @samuelbrasch
Sam Brasch

Sam Brasch covers the state legislature for Colorado Public Radio. Sam came to CPR in 2015 as the recipient of the organization’s first news fellowship.

Education:
Bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy, Colorado College.

Professional background:
Sam came to Colorado Public Radio in 2015 as the recipient of the organization’s first news fellowship. The year-long position allowed him to hone his journalistic skills working alongside CPR reporters, producers and editors.

Following his fellowship, Sam was awarded an 11-Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship from the University of California Berkeley where we worked with mentors like Michael Pollan to produce a radio documentary on kosher slaughter practices.

Sam rejoined Colorado Public Radio in 2016 as a contract reporter where he filled in for newscasts, reported on the state legislature and supported long-term feature stories and interviews for “Colorado Matters.”

Before his career in broadcast journalism, Sam worked for Modern Farmer Magazine where he wrote articles on goat towers and lambie jammies, and promoted the magazine’s work on social media.

  • A bill at the state legislature would award Colorado’s nine electors to the presidential candidate who won the popular vote — if enough states get on board.
    <p>A Colorado elector holds a signed vote certificate during the electoral vote at the Capitol in Denver, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Colorado's nine Democratic electors cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, who won the state.</p>
<p>A Colorado elector holds a signed vote certificate during the electoral vote at the Capitol in Denver, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Colorado's nine Democratic electors cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, who won the state.</p>
  • The political playing field changed after Democrats swept both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office in the 2018 elections.
    <p>Incoming state House Speaker KC Becker, right, hugs Rep. Daneya Esgar on the House floor Friday Jan. 4, 2018.</p>
<p>Incoming state House Speaker KC Becker, right, hugs Rep. Daneya Esgar on the House floor Friday Jan. 4, 2018.</p>
  • After eight years as Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper appears to be gearing up for a presidential run. On the campaign trail, he’s almost certain to emphasize gun control laws he signed in 2013. He led a purple state as it beat back the gun lobby to pass two controversial measures. But what did he do -- or not do -- to make that happen? And what does the story of those laws say about how Hickenlooper leads? CPR Public Affairs Reporter Bente Birkeland breaks it down. And keep an eye on this podcast feed! It’s where we’ll tell you more about the return of Purplish for the imminent legislative session.
    <p>In this May 30, 2018 file photo Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the state Capitol.</p>
<p>In this May 30, 2018 file photo Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the state Capitol.</p>
  • Climate change is big. For some, the little lagomorphs can be a way to grasp its reality.
    <p>An American pika hangs out on a talus slope.</p>
<p>An American pika hangs out on a talus slope.</p>
  • An annual index calculates how much a family must earn to meet basic needs. It’s not looking good.
    <p>Construction cranes stand over Wazee Street in downtown Denver on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. The site will house a 170-room hotel and six-story office project.</p><p>Construction cranes stand over Wazee Street in downtown Denver on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. The site will house a 170-room hotel and six-story office project.</p>
  • Now that ballots have been cast and counted, CPR is trying to figure out what the future holds for Purplish.
  • Someone asked Colorado Wonders, what is that thin, clear wire running atop streetlights and telephone poles in Aurora? We checked it out.
    <p>Look up in a certain Aurora neighborhood, and you might notice a thin, clear wire line running atop streetlights and telephone poles. It's an eruv, a way to navigate around the strict rules for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath.</p>
<p>Look up in a certain Aurora neighborhood, and you might notice a thin, clear wire line running atop streetlights and telephone poles. It's an eruv, a way to navigate around the strict rules for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath.</p>
  • The midterm election has come and gone. In Colorado, what occurred wasn't a blue wave, it was a blue avalanche. It was a signal so strong that you could wonder if this is even a purple state anymore.
    <p>Governor-elect Jared Polis speaks at the Democratic election night party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.</p>
<p>Governor-elect Jared Polis speaks at the Democratic election night party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.</p>
  • Colorado boasts some of the highest voter turnout in the country. Seventy percent of eligible adults submitted a ballot in the 2016 election, putting the state fourth in the country for voter turnout. But that still means 30 percent of eligible adults sat it out. Why? Many of the common barriers to voting don’t exist in Colorado. The process is easy. The elections are competitive. So we’re turning to one group that can help with some answers: nonvoters themselves.
    <p>Lynn Torre completes her ballot at a polling center, on state primary election day, in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, June 28, 2016.</p><p>Lynn Torre completes her ballot at a polling center, on state primary election day, in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, June 28, 2016.</p>
  • Security experts say Colorado is one of the most reliable places to cast a ballot. That’s largely because of an old technology: good, old-fashioned wood pulp.
    Voided ballots are verified at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's office on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018.Voided ballots are verified at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's office on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018.
  • Unlike in other states, convicted felons in Colorado who have completed parole are allowed to vote. New laws require people leaving the criminal justice system to learn about their voting rights and give parolees the chance to pre-register. A bipartisan coalition is behind those changes, but how far is it willing to go toward re-enfranchising people within the criminal justice system?
    <p>Inmates registering to vote at Denver’s downtown detention facility.</p>
<p>Inmates registering to vote at Denver’s downtown detention facility.</p>
  • Democratic presidential candidates are on a winning streak in Colorado. The state voted for Barack Obama twice and for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It’s been even longer since Colorado elected a Republican governor. Those results have led some to wonder if the state shouldn’t be considered purple anymore. On the electoral map, it might now be more of a light blue. One expert says not so fast.
    <p>Voting in Thornton, Colo., in 2014.</p><p>Voting in Thornton, Colo., in 2014.</p>
  • Gerrymandering is on the Colorado ballot this November. Amendments Y and Z promise to take the politics out of the drawing of congressional and legislative boundaries. To do it, they would hand the responsibility to a pair of commissions made up of heavily screened citizens -- not politicians or their hand-picked representatives. This week on Purplish, we look back at the troubled 2011 redistricting process and how it led to the current calls for reform. And we discover the amendments aren’t just about putting politicians in line. They also try to balance voters' dueling desires for electoral power and community.
  • Neglect can be a powerful political force. Southern Colorado spent a century mostly voting for Democrats, but in 2016 many countries in the region voted for President Trump. It was the first time some had supported a Republican in decades. The reason many voters cited was a sense of feeling forgotten by state and national politicians too focused on urban and suburban corridors. Reporters Nathaniel Minor and Allison Sherry recently visited Southern Colorado as a part of CPR’s election road trip series. They talked to voters about whether they feel like politicians are listening now--and what that could mean for November and beyond.
    <p>Goemmer Butte, (pronounced "gimmer") is a landmark near La Veta in Huerfano County, Colorado. It's named for the nearby Goemmer Brothers ranch and is <a href="http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/field/rocky_mt/goemmer.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">made up</a> of trachyte and breccia. </p>

<p><span style="color: rgb(64, 69, 64);">The area is full of ranches, artists and retirees who are often at odds politically — but many residents say they're more than happy to put differences aside in order to be good neighbors.</span></p>
<p>Goemmer Butte, (pronounced "gimmer") is a landmark near La Veta in Huerfano County, Colorado. It's named for the nearby Goemmer Brothers ranch and is <a href="http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/field/rocky_mt/goemmer.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">made up</a> of trachyte and breccia. </p>

<p><span style="color: rgb(64, 69, 64);">The area is full of ranches, artists and retirees who are often at odds politically — but many residents say they're more than happy to put differences aside in order to be good neighbors.</span></p>
  • A name can be a tricky thing for a politician. For Walker Stapleton, the Republican nominee for governor, his name does double duty, tying him to both a controversial Denver mayor and the Bush dynasty. Stapleton trumpeted both those ties at the beginning of his political career. Today, he’s running more as his own man. CPR’s Ann Marie Awad dives into both the legacies embodied in Walker Stapleton’s name--and examines whether either might matter on Election Day.
    Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton at the CPR studios Monday, May 21, 2018.Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton at the CPR studios Monday, May 21, 2018.