Politicians flocked in from all over the state to mix and mingle at the annual Legislative Barbecue in Pueblo this weekend. The “good ol’ fashioned barbecue’—as it was described by its host, the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce—was a bubble of power and prestige within the otherwise oblivious merriment of the fair. Smells of funnel cake and fried pickles wafting into the tent were the only discernible signs of goings-on outside the political schmoozefest.
The Colorado Independent was there to drink it all in.
Sen. Michael Bennet, who has been been criss-crossing the country raising money for Democratic Senate candidates, worked the room early in the evening. If his money-raising responsibilities are wearing on him, it wasn’t apparent as he chatted up state and local politicos about everything from water policy to his recent family vacation in Maine.
Bob Beauprez stood in the center of the white tent as attendees lined up to shake his hand or have their picture taken with him. The affable former congressman is known to be a big hugger. Friday was no exception as he embraced both Republicans and Democrats who welcomed him back into politics after his eight-year hiatus.
Mark Udall worked the room quite differently. During his early appearance at the barbecue, the incumbent Democratic Senator struck up several lengthier one-on-one conversations in a more crowded area of the tent that didn’t leave room for photo opportunities.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck milled around in a denim shirt talking about how hard he’s working to win the congressional seat being vacated by Udall’s GOP challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner. “Working hard. Yep. Working hard. I’m out there every day, working hard,” he said. Buck expressed some relief that his candidacy for Colorado’s 4th congressional district is less high profile than a candidacy for U.S. Senate, which Buck dropped when Gardner entered the race. “I’m very comfortable with how things turned out,” he said. “I think Cory is a better candidate for Senate and my politics are just in line with the district.”
Lest Buck get too comfortable, his opponent 4th Democrat Vic Meyers was also in attendance. The political newcomer was decked out in a bolo tie and cowboy hat, towering in stature as he leaned against the bar. “I’m more of a Roosevelt Democrat,” he clarified, “I’m not running to represent the Democratic party per se. They’re part of the problem too.” Meyers said he has more in common with the folks attending the rodeo and riding the Ferris wheel outside the tent than with the brand-name pols networking inside. “I’m just a citizen who got tired of Congress so I decided to do my duty.”
Other notable attendees were Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.
Representatives from sponsors Black Hills Energy, Comcast of Colorado, Kaiser Permanente, Pueblo Board of Water Works, Waste Management of Colorado, and Xcel Energy were among the mix, identifiable by neatly printed name tags.
As the evening wore on, politicos and operatives — some in high heels, others in their finest alligator boots — carefully navigated their way around the puddles that had leaked from the kegs and tubs of ice near the bar.
photo via Wikimedia commons, edited by Nat Stein.