Update: As expected, Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis make the Democratic primary ballot, with Kennedy winning about 62 percent of the delegate vote, twice as much as she needed to clear the threshold for the primary.
BROOMFIELD —More than 3,000 Democratic delegates packed the 1st Bank Center on Saturday, fanning themselves with campaign posters and showing their support for Democratic candidates seeking to get on the June 26 primary ballot through the party assembly process.
Cheers went up for Senator Bernie Sanders, who won big in the 2016 Democratic caucus when running as a candidate for U.S. president. Several Democratic party diehards attending the event wore Bernie 2016 pins.
“I’m a progressive, I’m happy when I hear progressive values being recognized. You know, ‘union’ isn’t a bad word,” said Paul Pearson, chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen CO State Legislative Board from Centennial.
Delegates sounded optimistic, speaking of blue wave that led to surprise Democratic victories in Congressional special elections across the country last year. Colorado is a swing state and pivotal ground for both parties.
During the opening speeches, students drew strong applause when talking about school safety — a national conversation that has gained salience in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“Guns cannot drive out guns,” said Tay Anderson, president of Never Again Colorado, a group students seeking to end gun violence, said of proposed laws to arm teachers. “Only mental health counselors can do that.”
Monty Sooter, of Boulder, said something needs to change on Colorado’s gun laws.
“I like to give the example (that) it takes years of education for someone to cut my hair, but we don’t have anything like that to own a weapon,” said Sooter, an officer in the Navy and a hunter, who called for universal background checks.
At the top of the ticket is the Democratic race for governor. Former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, who won big in her Denver precinct assembly, is expected to easily clear the 30 percent threshold of delegate votes needed to make the primary ballot.
So, too, is Congressman Jared Polis, who has less to lose. Polis also has petitioned onto the ballot, spreading his risk. Erik Underwood, a former Republican, is also going through the assembly.
The winners will face off against state Sen. Mike Johnston and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne,, both of whom petitioned on to the ballot.
The most closely watched down-ticket race is for the Democratic nomination for the Attorney General’s Office. Joe Salazar, a Democratic representative from Thornton who is a member of the progressive Doghouse Dems, will face off with Amy Padden, a Denver prosecutor who served as executive assistant U.S. Attorney under Loretta Lynch, and Phil Weiser, a former Obama administration official and served as dean of the University of Colorado Law School from 2011 to 2016.
The Secretary of State’s race will be between Jena Griswold, a business owner and lawyer, who worked on President Barack Obama’s campaign as a voter protection attorney in 2012. She will be running against Phillip Villard.
Gov. John Hickenlooper opened the assembly by bashing President Donald Trump’s attacks on national security and the media. He said that he is finishing his second term and preparing to leave office, his job is to make sure Democratic voters know how important this election is.
“We are the party that speaks to people from all walks of life. We have integrity, we tell the truth. We believe in facts,” Hickenlooper said. “And we are going to be on the right side of history.”
Photos by John Herrick. The 2018 Democratic Party Assembly in Broomfield, Colorado on April 14, 2018