Sanders dominated and one vote actually mattered in CD3


If you think one vote doesn’t matter, just ask Steve Sheldon of Eagle County.

He missed making the Democratic primary ballot for Congressional District 3 in Friday night’s assembly by not just one vote — less than one.

Sheldon took 110 votes. He needed 110.7 to reach 30 percent, the minimum threshold to secure a spot on the ballot. He was short seven-tenths of a vote.

Former state Sen. Gail Schwartz of Crested Butte, who entered the race to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton just a week ago, became the district’s sole nominee with 259 votes out of 369 cast, or 70.8 percent.

Related: Two Democrats eye Tipton’s seat. One could actually win.

“They don’t call me ‘landslide’ for nothing,” Schwartz joked, upon learning the vote tally. “Every one of my elections have been squeakers – but they’ve been winners!”

Schwartz has won CD3 before, in 2000, when she beat an incumbent Republican for the CU Board of Regents. She’s also won two state Senate terms in the district, which leans Republican.

“Beating Republicans is a team sport,” she told The Colorado Independent upon learning she would be the only Democrat on the ballot for the district. “We’re not just running against Tipton, but we’re running against Trump and Cruz, too.”

The convention also whittled down the number of primary candidates for state House District 62, in southern Colorado, from three to two. Winning their way onto the ballot: Alonzo Payne of San Luis and Donald Valdez of LaJara.

But the main event, clearly, was choosing delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Sanders supporters were on their guard for establishment Party shenanigans. The only real problem in the entire evening was a short-lived plan to move forward with voting before all delegates and alternates had signed in. Sanders delegates demanded more time to allow all alternates to sign in, a request voted on and approved by the convention attendees, who numbered around 400.

Sanders supporters outnumbered those backing Clinton by about two to one in the district convention.

The results: Four delegates for the Vermont senator and presidential candidate were chosen to go to Philadelphia. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picked up two delegates.

Several who spoke to The Colorado Independent after results were announced said how the brief problem was handled showed the process was transparent and fair.

Durango resident Chrissy Mitchell, 21, is a Sanders supporter who switched from the Green Party to the Democratic Party when she started backing Sanders.

She says the process was fair only because Sanders supporters were able to temporarily delay the vote until their alternates signed in.

“We were listened to … We had a problem, we addressed it, it was voted on and it passed. It was a very democratic process” and the results reflected what the people wanted, she said.

Anna Rousseau, 24, also of Durango, agreed. “Everyone had a fair vote. The results, having four delegates for Bernie and [two] for Hillary reflects the support” that came from the community.

But on one issue the two were divided: Mitchell says if Sanders isn’t the nominee she’ll return to the Green Party. Rousseau will back the Democratic nominee, whoever that is. And she’s glad to see two strong presidential Democratic candidates this year.

She first voted for president in 2012. Deciding between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney forced her to choose between the “lesser of two evils,” she said. 

Jose Trujillo, a Clinton supporter from Sawatch, also approved of how the elections were run.

“It was very fair,” he said. “Everyone seemed to be agreeable to the process and it served a good purpose. It showed there is unity in the party this year.”