Sanders, Cruz win at Colorado state conventions

Choosing presidential candidates ‘feels like democracy,’ but reality is more complicated

by Lisa Cyriacks

Despite the majority of elected officials serving as Hillary Clinton-pledged superdelegates, most Democrats attending the Colorado convention overwhelmingly felt the Bern. Bernie Sanders captured 41 delegates out of 78 at the state convention in Loveland—giving Sanders a clear hold on Colorado. Twelve super delegates remained unpledged.

That’s 63% of the straw poll vote at the state convention, improving his chances from the 59% Sanders received on precinct caucus night, March 1.

State Representative Joe Salazar, one of the few elected officials who supports his state Party’s favorite, spoke to cheers, “It definitely shows the trend for Bernie Sanders in the state of Colorado is still really strong.”

Sanders supporters say they have been betrayed by the majority of the state’s superdelegates including Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Bennet, Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, former Gov. Roy Romer, Mannie Rodriguez and Blanca O’Leary who have all thrown their weight behind Clinton.

The other four superdelegates—Anthony Graves, Lisa Padilla, Beverly Ryken and Democratic State Party Chair Rick Palacio—have not announced their candidate.

Earlier that week, Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio admitted that the party misreported the caucus results—and kept it quiet until The Denver Post uncovered the error. Palacio said the party discovered no other errors and downplayed concerns about the tallies because the March 1 vote didn’t apportion any actual delegates.

At the Republican convention held the prior weekend, Ted Cruz landed a landslide victory in Colorado–moving the GOP closer to a contested national convention.

The Texas senator won all 37 delegates awarded in Colorado. Going into the convention Cruz had 17 bound delegates. Another four delegates were unpledged. An additional 13 delegates were awarded at the state convention. The three additional delegates in Colorado’s 37-member national delegation are unpledged party leaders.

Ted Cruz was the keynote speaker on Saturday afternoon at the convention. Cruz was the only candidate who showed up to speak to the crowd. Nation front-runner Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich did not attend the state convention, sending supporters in their place. Both campaigns invested little in the state, sensing that the state’s caucus process run by hard-core party insiders did not favor their campaigns.

US Senate

Incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet gave the keynote speech at the Democratic Party state convention Saturday in Loveland. Although Bennet is unopposed in his primary race, he cannot take his re-election for granted. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend $5 million in Colorado to defend its lone vulnerable incumbent, Sen. Michael Bennet.

The GOP convention gave 70% of their vote for the US Senate race to Darryl Glenn, a 49-year-old Air Force lieutenant colonel who is currently County Commissioner in Colorado Springs. Charismatic Glenn gave a rousing speech to the crowd on debt, ending federal funding of sanctuary cities, and the Iran nuclear deal. He calls himself a “Christian constitutionalist conservative”.

Glenn faces four Republican challengers in the June 28 primary who used an alternate signature-gathering route to secure a place on the ballot: Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, former Aurora city councilman Ryan Frazier, businessman Jack Graham and former state Rep. Jon Keyser.

GOP delegates at the convention shocked everybody by humiliating state senator Tim Neville and his powerful gun-rights backers. Neville did not even meet the threshold needed to appear on the June 28 ballot.

3rd Congressional District

Incumbent Republican Scott Tipton faces a primary opponent. At the Republican 3rd district assembly, 27-year-old recent law school graduate Alex Beinstein earned 40% of the delegate vote—enough to make the June primary ballot.

Tipton is a staunch Second Amendment supporter and a member of the National Rifle Association. The Congressman’s campaign boasts of bills he passed on renewable hydroelectric power; support for the Western Slope’s energy industry, and his sponsorship of a bipartisan Water Rights Protection Act to protect Colorado water rights from the federal government.

Beinstein is a Colorado native and considers himself a crusader to defeat Islamic terror and to reclaim our constitutional republic.

Democrat Senator Gail Schwartz of Crested Butte became the sole nominee with 259 out of 369 cast, or 70.8%, at the Democratic 3rd district assembly.

Democratic Party leadership is hopeful that Schwartz can successfully challenge Tipton in a district that is a conservative stronghold, where Republicans have roughly 12,000 more voters than Democrats.

Schwartz served two terms in the state Senate, representing a district where the largest bloc of voters are registered independent, followed by Republicans and then Democrats. Congressional District 3 has grown, geographically, since that 2000 race and became slightly more Democratic when congressional maps were redrawn in 2011.

When making her announcement to run, Schwartz pointed to her ability to work with rural communities. She cosponsored 2013 bipartisan legislation that created the Build Excellent Schools Today program, which provides construction funding for school districts.

“I know we can bring this same commonsense leadership to a broken Congress,” she said.

Schwartz also pledged to work on “investments in rural infrastructure including broadband, the protection of our natural resources and way of life, and to keep Americans safe.”

Schwartz won an immediate endorsement from former Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, who said “Gail’s work in the San Luis Valley and for our rural communities has been transformative; she has worked to build new schools, protect our seniors, and take care of our veterans. Results matter and Gail has delivered.”

Colorado State Senate District 35

Incumbent Republican Larry Crowder was unanimously selected by District 35 delegates at state convention.

Senator Crowder, a fifth-generation Coloradan, spoke at the convention: “I’m humbled that the people I represent have again put their trust and support in me. I will continue to work tirelessly to stand up for Southern Colorado to ensure residents of District 35 have job opportunities, access to healthcare and education and an excellent quality of life.”

Crowder will be facing a Democratic opponent in the general election—James Casias, also a native Coloradan, is currently Sheriff of Las Animas County. Casias on his campaign: “Fairness and justice are what I stand for everyday. We need to make sure everyone has a fair shot at success. Your zip code should never determine your opportunities in life. I know I am best suited to stand up for our values and bring some law and order to Denver.”

Colorado House District 62

Incumbent Democrat Edward Vigil is term-limited. Delegates at the Democratic 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 La Jara.

Announcing his candidacy, Valdez said he is seeking the state house seat “to be the voice of the district and for the people here in the San Luis Valley for education, agriculture, our water and economic development.”

Alonso Payne on why he is running, “My No. 1 priority is making sure that I’m going to be a voice for the middle class and for the poor because, quite frankly, that’s what this district encompasses.”

According to the Secretary of State’s website, the Republicans are also fielding two candidates, Marcy Freeburg and Bob Mattive.

Freeburg ran for House District 62 in the last election against Ed Vigil. Her highest priority is to reduce the regulations, laws and rules that make it very difficult to start and sustain a small business. “I have two small businesses and the regulations absolutely stifle small business. We have five of the eight poorest counties in this district and the government makes it so difficult to start a business.”

Mattive received 44% of the delegate votes in order to win a place on the primary ballot June 28, 2016. He is running on the platform of providing a strong voice not only for agriculture but for all of the issues facing the citizens of House District 62.