Live from the Colorado Democratic Party Convention

PhotobucketYour intrepid Colorado Confidential staff are Colorado Springs for the Colorado Democratic Party Convention. An estimated 10,000 party faithful are expected to attend the state convention today and tomorrow at Colorado Springs’ World Arena.

Get the latest updates on news, photos and gossip below the fold. Friday, 12:15 p.m.: Presidential speakers lined up
Colorado Democratic Party spokesperson Matt Sugar confirmed that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano will be speaking in behalf of presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe will be representing his candidate at the convention on Saturday at the World Arena, time TBA. The presidential preference poll will be taken after the guest speakers have made their presentations.

Leslie Robinson

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1:30 p.m.: Trouble’s brewing from Western Slope delegations
Out of the congressional district national delegate races completed so far, including CD1, CD2, CD6 and CD7, no delegates have been selected from rural towns. Delegate addresses range from Boulder, Denver, Littleton, Lakewood and Aurora.

One state delegate for Obama, Kim Doyle-Wille from Eagle County, is taking steps that rural Colorado is represented on some of the 55 national delegate seats. (Of the 70 national delegate seats from Colorado, three out of 15 superdelegates are from rural areas: Dem Party vice chair Dan Slater from Canon City; DNC member Debbie Marquez from Edwards; and Rep. John Salazar from Manassas.) Doyle-Wille has formed an ad-hoc committee called “COMOCO” for Coalition of Mountain Counties united for fair representation of Colorado.

Doyle-Wille sent this email out to 39 mountain and rural counties on the Western Slope with the intent to “unify delegations to obtain fair representation” from CD3 and CD4 on the national delegation slate:

The results of the CD1, CD2, CD6 & CD7 delegate selections for the Democratic National Convention bring to light an important issue of representation for rural Colorado Mountain Communities.

It would appear that rural communities are being annihilated by the demographics of the political ‘machines’ of the large counties and cities of the Front Range. Thus far NOT ONE rural or mountain county has seated a delegate for the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

This is what needs to occur on behalf of the COMOCO delegates: slate (Western Slope national delegate candidates) by State Convention time and also at the upcoming CD3 and CD5 Conventions or there WILL be repeats of the outcomes seen in the CD results to date.

For this reason, we are working hard to unite as a force through the Coalition of Mountain Counties, ‘COMOCO’, to show our strength, passion and hard work that has been done, at the upcoming State Convention in Colorado Springs. We believe that the metropolitan concerns, in their zeal to compete against other large counties within their CD’s have unintentionally disenfranchised the ‘backbone’ of Colorado

Doyle-Wille is planning a COMOCO meeting when she arrives in the Springs this afternoon, time TBA. More info will be reported when available.

Leslie Robinson

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2:35 p.m.: Well, so much for the convenience of early registration
Over 600 people have lined up in the DoubleTree lobby and into the hallways as they wait to sign up for early registration. In the background over the loudspeaker, hotel management warns people to move their cars from the shopping center parking lot across from the hotel. The problem is there is no where else to park.


Leslie Robinson

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2:40 p.m.: Obama and Clinton supporters dot the registration line
Cyndy Kulp (left) and Patricia Gooden (right), Democrats from Colorado Springs tip their hats for Obama.

Leslie Robinson

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2:55 p.m. Chuck Bader from the AFL-CIO is no doubt a Clinton fan
Leslie Robinson

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6 p.m.: They’re pretty sure she’s gonna blow
The Pikes Peak/Mount McKinley jokes are flying – including among Democratic spokespeople Matt Sugar and Lauren Rose.

“It’s beautiful to be back in the shadow of Mount McKinley,” Sugar says with a broad smile, a not-subtle swipe at the Bob Schaffer for US Senate TV ad that was pulled this week, in which the Republican brags that he proposed to his wife on the top of Pikes Peak, with a photo of Alaska’s Mount McKinley in the background. Pikes Peak of course, provides a dramatic backdrop to the City of Colorado Springs.

As a matter of fact, Sugar notes, the press should have a pretty good view during the convention tomorrow.

“I think from the press room [at the convention hall] you can see Mount McKinley,” Sugar says.

There are plenty of Hillary signs, and a smattering of Obama signs, planted in the medium on the way into the convention hotel, the Doubletree. But no sign, at least today, of any protesters — particularly those of the elephant persuasion who may not be too happy about the flood of donkeys streaming into this Republican stronghold.

So where, exactly is the free speech zone going to be set up for any protesters? Sugar and Rose aren’t exactly sure that there will be one, but they’re happy to venture a guess:

“That would be at the base of Mount McKinley,” Rose says.

Cara DeGette

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6:30 p.m.: Delays, delays
Although CD5 convention and assembly was supposed to start at 4 p.m., the meeting hasn’t officially begun because the alternates have not been seated. The problem? Long registration lines from the afternoon and now the registrars can’t find the alternate list. So all the county chairs in CD5 have to go back to the registration tables to help with the alternate check-in. People groan. Outside, CD3 delegates wait. And groan. Their meeting was slated for 6 p.m., but now it has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. shoving the CD4 meeting to at least 10 p.m. or later. More groans.

In the background, announcements that anyone parking in the Target parking lot across from the hotel will find their car towed. Some CD5 delegates start for the door. Another announcement: “Come back! Come back! Target won’t tow!” (Good PR move on Target’s part.) Cheers and applause erupt.

In the meanwhile, Democratic VIP’s work the halls. Wellington and Wilma Webb; Rep. John Salazar; and CD4 congressional candidate, Betsy Markey.

Leslie Robinson

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7:12 p.m. CD4 is still rounding up alternates; CD3 goes to Plan B
The lobby of the Doubletree Hotel is filling up fast. Delegates from CD3 (Western Slope) are told to wait there until another meeting room is arranged. It’s really getting hot and noisy. Paul Brown from Mesa County says, “This can’t be good,” as he looks at the growing crowd. Another delegate asks, “Is anyone in charge?” In the meantime, national delegate candidates work the group and their volunteers hold up signs.

“I thought our caucuses were unorganized. This makes us look good,” Delta County Democratic Party chair Eric Jessen comments, looking at the crowd. He said he wasn’t a delegate because he wanted new people to come and “experience the chaos.”

Rep. John Salazar takes control of the hundreds of CD3 delegates jammed into the lobby. “We’re moving this to the outside!” Everyone cheers and heads to the door.

Outside, Salazar is nominated by acclamation during the assembly portion of the meeting. For the national delegate selection, everyone has to stream back inside to the ballroom. The CD5 meeting is finally finished, but no one will know the results of the national delegate election until tomorrow.

Leslie Robinson

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9:15 p.m.: It’s not over yet

Obama (cutout) and Robert Michael from Ft. Collins share a moment in the hotel hallway as CD4 delegates wait for CD3 to finish their meeting. It could be a long wait since someone in the hotel lobby with a bullhorn is asking for Obama alternates for CD3. Some Clinton delegates and alternates were a no-show to the CD3 convention, so Obama alternates can be seated in their place. There is another glitch in CD3 – none of the Mesa County delegates have been given the proper credentials, so hundreds of CD3 delegates have to wait for Mesa County to be checked-in.

Rep. John Salazar takes the microphone to kill some time and to thank the delegation for their support. “The Third is the most beautiful district in the nation and I plan on keeping it that way,” he tells the CD3 convention delegation. “I’m going to fight oil and gas to make sure the Roan Plateau remains pristine!” That line brings down the house in applause. “I’m going to fight for farmers and ranchers even if I have to take on the U.S. Army personally!” More roars come from the audience.

Back in the lobby, CD4 delegates hang out, waiting their turn in the ballroom for their convention. Maybe they’ll get done by midnight tonight.

Jack Real, a volunteer from Garfield County, notes that some people today had to wait in line for more than three hours to be registered. “They were told there weren’t enough computers to handle the crowd. Didn’t the party know anyone was coming?” he asks sarcastically.

All of a sudden, there are drums beating and thumping. A drum corps from the Sienna High School is performing. They are entertaining, but one wonders who came up with the idea to play drums at 9:30 at night. “We were invited to come,” a student says, but he didn’t explain if the invite came from the Democrats or the Republicans.

However, after nine hours of intense confusion, drums are just what tired Democrats needed — for an excuse to go to the bar.

Leslie Robinson

Tune in tomorrow for Colorado Confidential’s continuing live coverage from the bowl (or is it bowels) of the World Arena for the Colorado Democratic Party convention.

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