SD 31 vacancy committee casts first round of ballots: Ragsdale leads

In between fanning themselves with placards in a sweltering middle school auditorium, 157 Democratic officials have cast their votes in the contest to replace state Sen. Jennifer Veiga, the Denver Democrat who is stepping down from the State Legislature.

In the first round of voting, former Democratic state Rep. Ann Ragsdale, who lost the appointment to Veiga at the district’s last vacancy meeting, led the pack with 56 votes, followed by Pat Steadman with 44 votes and Alex Sanchez with 31 votes. Jill Conrad, whose 10 votes ranked her in fourth place and qualified her for a slot in the run-off, withdrew her candidacy after the vote was announced and waved a Sanchez sticker to the crowd.

If all the vacancy committee members stick around for the second round, 83 votes will be required to win a majority-plus-one and avoid a third round of balloting between the top two finishers.

The winner of tonight’s vacancy selection will have to face voters in 2010 to complete Veiga’s term, and then again in 2012 to serve a full, four-year term.

Stay tuned for an update on the next round of voting.