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March 09, 2008 06:08 PM UTC

Denver County Dems Assembly - some surprises!

  • by: Dan Willis

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: The results are now posted on the Denver Dems website

Okay, I survived the County Assembly, the obligitory dive into the vodka bottle that followed and am now ready to tell the tale:


Obama won the most delegates on a roughly 2/3 to 1/3 split. (I still need to get those exact numbers from our credentials chair).

US Senate:

Udall and Benner both spoke. Benner spoke unusally well and was able to get nearly 25% of the vote.

See “below the fold” for the legislative races

HD’s 1 and 3 and SD’s 31 and 33 were uncontested.


Mark Ferrandino was the only one to get 30% or better and the only person on the ballot for now. James Johnson got better than 10% so he has the option to petition. Alan Black missed the 10% threshold so the petition route is now closed to him.


Jerry Frangas faced a nominal challege from Russell Greear but took nearly all the votes so Greear is out.


Lauren Montez fell out the sky and landed in a primary with incumbent Joel Judd. I don’t think anyone knew she was going to run. She must have given a hellova speech because she got 30% (by 1 vote).


Liz Adams, Lois Court and Tom Russell all get to send delegates to their multi-county assembly next week. Josh Hanfling announced previously he would petition and Audrey Newman still has that option available to her if she wishes to use it.


Terrance Carroll was challenged by Renee Blanchard. Terrance recevied 90% of the vote. I’ll have to double check the math, but I believe Renee can attempt to petition if she wants.


A 3-way primary!

Beth McCann 35%

Matt Bergles 33%

Cindy Lowery 32%


Joe Miklosi topped Paul Rosenthal 55%-45% so both will be sending delegates to their multi-county assembly next week. A third candidate, Scott Bates, did not reach the 15% threshold for delegates but he is still free to petition if he so desires.


Joyce Foster beat Alice Borodkin in the race for delegates 70% – 30%. That multi-county assembly will also be next week.


48 thoughts on “Denver County Dems Assembly – some surprises!

  1. I got up this morning and wondered what happened at the Denver Assembly yesterday– and thought– hopefully Dan Willis provided some answers. Glad to see he is so reliable.

    Thanks Dan.

    1. Given that this election year is all about expectations, isn’t Beth McCann the loser?  I thought she’d keep at least one of her lesser known opponents under 30%.

      1. It was an underwhelming performance by McCann.   On the other hand, there’s a fair slice of party people who will not warm to her because of some of her positions (e.g., has supported death penalty).  With two contenders on the ballot, that vote gets split.

    2. McCann = fomer Denver Manager of Safety, or whatever they call it; current deputy attorney general.  Long time resident, biggest name ID.

      Bergles = long time school teacher; signature issue is education.  Probably regarded as something of a long shot until Rosemary Marshall endorsed him.

      Lowery = chair of the Denver Young Dems, or something like that.  A healthcare attorney and health care (single payor) is her signature issue.

      Three fine candidates, imo, although Bergles strikes me as a little one-note, as if he has to force himself to talk about anything other than education, whereas the other two seem to have broader policy interests.  McCann seems the least liberal, Bergles the most old liberal (teacher’s union is holy, that sort of thing), and Lowery more inclined to look for new solutions that break from party dogma (e.g., supports Groff bill on public schools doing their own thing).

      1. I did not know very much about any of the candidates at the assembly and voted for Bergles on the strength of Marshall’s endorsement and being turned off by Lowery’s speech and Webb’s support for McCann.  If I could do it over I might vote for Lowery instead.

          1. Yes, I do.  And I can campaign for one of them after learning more as well.  But my vote at the convention was the more important one and I still wish I had more information about the three.

    3. Just to clarify, I’m not in this district and have concerns about who the final candidate is.  I read the rules for the nomination process and I could have sworn it stated that only the top two vote getters about 30% would go onto the primary.  

      I had always wondered what would happen if you had 3 candidates above 30%, which obviously happened here.

      Can someone please tell me, did I misunderstand that rule completely?

      1. as does anyone who who petitions onto the ballot (a little less than 1,000 signatures are required) unless the person petitioning also participated in the assembly process and failed to secure at least 10% support in that forum.

        The two two rule applies only when no candidate receives at least 30% of the vote.  That rule has never, in my decade of so of experience in Colorado politics, ever come into play, since it you need four or more candidates seeking a single office at the same time who are very equally matched to trigger it.  Experience has taught candidates in those kinds of races (there were about three or four in the state between the two parties in 2006) to strongly considering petitioning onto the ballot rather that going the assembly route.

    1. Lauren Montez came out of nowhere. She was a Hillary supporter and the point of me saying that is that I think she won over a whole bunch of Hillary people when they were out in the hall deciding their delegates. When they came back in and we did the vote, I think most of the Hillary people (and some Obama people) voted for her. Of course I can’t be sure.

      As for the speeches, first Judd spoke and then she did. She said that this was the first time she has ever seen her representative and that we needed someone who would be out there talking to their constituents. She said that the platform wouldn’t change just the voice. She also said that though Judd has more experience, she thinks it’s time for a change, which I thought was ironic because it sounded like talking points from Obama, minus the substance. I was impressed with her because she was young, eager and had the guts to get up there and go for. As such I congratulated her on her 30%. However, a lot of people around me wished her speech was more substantive. Me too. Plus, I know that Joel Judd is out there, but we can’t all expect him to walk up to our door. We have to be willing to get out and meet him places sometimes. Say, perhaps, at the HD5 meeting or rallies, or other events that have issues that are important to us.

      Clearly my vote stayed with Judd and I told her that. But if she gets her act together, starts talking about issues, starts promoting herself and her name, who knows what could happen. It could be much closer race then we think.

      1. A small number of wholly uninformed people wield an unreasonable amount of power. I talked to people at the Denver assembly who were perplexed why Mark Udall was on the agenda there since they can’t vote for him in November.

        “Well, he’s running for United States Senate,” I’d say. The response was “but I don’t live in his district!”

        So I had to follow up with a minor civics lesson detailing the difference between the House and the Senate, explaining that our Senators represent the whole state. And these are people who should be more informed than the average voter.

        Then you look at State House being dictated by a bunch of people who don’t care about anything other than the Presidential race. Funny, I run into Joel Judd at different events more often than I run into any other state legislator, and I don’t even live in his district.

        1. Very disturbing, indeed.  But you gotta keep in mind Churchill’s famous quip, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest.”

        2. On average, the people who come to caucuses and assemblies are the ones who DO pay more attention.  I’m sure  a much higher percentage of the general population would be confused about Udall running statewide for the US Senate than the percentage of caucus and assembly goers confused on that score.  

          1. they read the papers.  The caucuses and assemblies are particularly helpful in downticket races where the speach given immediately in advance of the vote, and the word of mouth information from fellow assembly attendees may be far more information than is available anywhere in the mass media or even the blogosphere (and God forbid that you miss the one story on page B12 where the race is covered in one column inch).

            Free media coverage goes to top of the ticket races disproportionately, and bottom of the ticket races often lack the money to get the word out — e.g. radio and TV and major daily newspaper ads are often too expensive because you have to pay to reach the 2,000,000 people of the metro area even though you only have 70,000 people in a HD.

      2. Any idea about her background or if she has a website?  I don’t think she can upset Judd, but I’m like you, I admire those who are young and willing to jump into the fray.

        1. Yeah, I realized after I posted my comment that I really didn’t answer your question too directly. Hmmm, maybe I should run for office. Seriously, though, I don’t have any other info because I don’t think there is any other info. My guess is that she only decided to run that day or maybe in the past few days and therefore has not put any information about herself out there yet. She didn’t mention a website or anything during her speech and a quick Google search yielded no results.

  2.    So if Joyce Foster can get 75% to 80% of the delegates in the Arapahoe County portion of S.D. 35, then Alice Borodkin could have the dubious distinction of having to petition on to the primary ballot?

      Is she THAT unpopular?

    1. and fans were WAY over the top.  I was not impressed with her at all!  She treated the event as a big popularity contest.  Her speech was lackluster at best.

      1. Borodkin is unpleasant, defeatist and has a generally unremarkable legislative record.

        Foster is pleasant, but has a stunning lack of understanding of the fiscal/constitutional issues, or statewide issues for that matter and seems a little cozy with developers for my taste.

  3. Here are my thoughts…  Three very qualified candidates attended the convention – and, gave excellent speeches.  I also enjoyed Audrey Newman’s speech – but, she doesn’t seem to have enough backing to compete.

    Add into the mix – Hanfling, who decided to skip the convention and get on the ballot via the petition process.  So far, Hanfling has raised the most most money of all 5 candidates.  

    The question is…  can Hanfling buy/out-spend the other candidates to win this local race?  Or, at this level is it required that you have to walk door-to-door to win the election?  And, does it matter that he was a life-long Republican until July of 2007?

    Should be quite interesting race up until the primary later this summer.

    1. He raised money for republicans and he explored running for office as a republican.

      He hired a lot of good consultants, so the money matters, I bet they told him he couldn’t run as a GOP candidate.  Better to slap on a donkey mask and slip in with a (d) behind his name.

      I don’t have a problem with R’s that want to be D’s, my problem is that his change isn’t from the heart, its an electoral calculation: I mean he gave money to Rick O’Donnell around the time he changed from R to D and O’Donnell wouldn’t have even qualified as a moderate Republican.

      My fear is that Tom Russell, Lois, and Liz divide up the vote and Hanfling spams the neighborhoods with glossies using his warchest.  I prefer Tom because he’s stunningly smart (he has a real grip on the intracacies of the fiscal issues), but any of the three are preferable to Hanfling (Although Liz’s restistance to healthcare reform bothers me–her husband’s a doctor)

      Lois has accepted caps and spent quite a bit already so she won’t have anything to fire back with.

      I’m not sure where Liz is with money or if she accepted the cap, but she has spent a fair piece on the caucuses already.

      Tom has raised a bunch and spent almost nothing ahead of the caucuses because his eye is firmly fixed on Hanfling.

      Even if Hanfling wasn’t the stealth Republican, he’s one of those guys who seems to focused on having his picture taken with politicians, celebrities, and beautiful women, rather than the nuts and bolts of policy.  

      When you get one part time staffer who barely has time to answer the phone, the representative better know something about policy.

        1. It is Huttner from Progress Now.  I don’t know Huttner other than by reputation, so I can’t speak to why he endorsed him.

          If you’ve ever heard Josh stump he speaks in republicaneese.  Anti labor, anti consumer, pro insurance lobby.  

          1. set of endorsements:  Jared Polis, Ari Zefaras, Bill Winter, Huttner, Janet Elway, and Les Shapiro.  I wonder if any of those people actually live HD6.

            I agree with you that Tom Russell seems as though he has the skills, intellect, and temperment to be an excellent legislator.

      1. Danny:

        As a member of Liz Adams’s campaign, I want to say the following.  However, this is not an official communication from the campaign, but the opinion of someone who has been involved from the beginning.

        Liz is NOT resistant to health care reform.  Liz very much wants to resolve this issue, and not only get the uninsured covered, but reduce the cost of health care for all.

        What Liz is NOT doing is telling people what they want to hear even though there’s no way it could ever happen; it’s called honesty.

        Other candidates are using the term most of us love to hear: single payer.  However, anyone who has even been casually following the fallout from the 208 Commission’s modest proposals know that such a program is VERY far away in this sate. Also, the chances that such a program could be brought to the fore by a new first term legislator are extremely slim. So Liz is not going to be disingenuous and make promiss that she can’t deliver. But make no mistake,Liz want health care reform.

        Also, although Dan did not state his piece,it should be mentioned that Liz came in FIRST in the vote. She took 41% of the tally, and beat Lois Court by 10% of the vote.

        Liz is a hard worker, and when elected, will be a fantastic legislator.

        Rick VanWie


        1. No she’s said it shouldn’t be the goal.  She asks at forums “who here is happy with there current healthcare?” and then goes on to say most people are satisfied with their healthcare, why should we change it other than around the edges.

          But she doesn’t doesn’t pose the three real questions

          1. “who here is on Medicare?” (half the audiences at the forums are seniors and already recieve single payer)

          2.  “Who here is worried about losing their healthcare if the leave/lose their job?” (The Punishing cost of COBRA and the vulnerability of the solo/small group insured that creates terror)

          3.  “Who here has had a serious health claim and felt the insurance companies were helping them getting treatment?”  the reality is even if you have health insurance, if you try to make a claim for a serious illness get ready for a battle.  Most folks who are satisfied with their health insurance have never had a serious claim.

          I recognize that Single payer is difficult to achieve, but if you don’t conceed that single payor delivers the best outcomes per $ in countries around the world: you have already conceeded the battlefield to the insurance companies.  Insurance companies have a profit interest in denying care, not in delivering it and unless you recognize they are the problem, healthcare will never be delivered in a cost effective manner.

          On a side note I think Liz is a hard worker, but why doesn’t she want to do the hard work of delivering single payer?

          1. …to try and actually accomplish that, it would be the only thing she did in the legislature – and the odds would still be low.

            I think it’s also reasonable for a legislator to say they are going to work on a number of other issues instead.

            Maybe the question should be, if single payer is brought forward, would you vote for it.

        2. And reread my last post.  It came across harder than I intended.

          I like Liz and agree with her on many things, but I have a major policy difference with her on this.

          I did not intend the tone to be so harsh, but I am tired of people giving up on single payer even as a goal.  Its only a little hyperbolic to say the insurance companies are killing people.

  4. As Hillary said in an interview this week she’s prepared to poach pledged delegates:

    It doesn’t look bleak at all. I have a very close race with Senator Obama. There are elected delegates, caucus delegates and superdelegates, all for different reasons, and they’re all equal in their ability to cast their vote for whomever they choose. Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to. This is a very carefully constructed process that goes back years, and we’re going to follow the process.

    This contradicts what Camp Clinton had previously said:

    We have not, are not and will not pursue the pledged delegates of Barack Obama.

    Clinton put these cards on the table, and if she wants to play that game, I’ve got one question for her pledged delegates. Are ready to switch your support after repeatedly reading about the underhanded tactics of Hillary’s campaign?

  5. Tina Griego noted in her piece in today’s Rocky that she heard a lot of comment (during the confusion at the HD assemblies) that “Democracy is ”

    It is also expensive.  The Party announced during the County Assembly that the cost was $42K.  However, I suspect it will be significantly higher, because of the confusion and problems at the SD and HD assemblies.

    I believe the cost was predicated on an hour certain end time for all activity.  However, the HDs and SDs went very long (particularly SD 35 and HD 6).  The county assembly was to reconvene for the platform discussion after the HDs and SDs met.

    HD 6 was still meeting at 5pm.

    I am guessing that the assembly went far beyond what had been budgeted and with the clock still running the tab was too.

      1. Going into the assembly the cost was $42K.  That is slightly more than their annual operating budget.  They were doing a pass the hat to try to offset the cost, however, given the length of time that the assembly and its component parts took, they are going to have to get a bigger hat.

        I don’t fault that they needed to use the kind of space they did, given the expected and realized turnout – a high school auditorium would not suffice.  I don’t know about the associated costs (I was told that the rental of the theater was $10, but other costs caused an escalation) as I don’t know what they were.  However, doing a better job organizing the HD and SD assemblies, with better instructions to the various chairs and a clear presentation of the rules and procedures could have helped reduce the amount of time the district took.  I also believe that having the house districts meet first – prior to the senate districts – would also have helped.  That is the way it has been done in the past and frankly it works better and is more efficient.

        It also would have helped to have some suggested processes for the inidvidual caucuses to select thier delegates.  This cannot be dictated (but of course must be consistent with the rules/delegate selection plan/and permorg report) but some suggested procedures to select the delegates in a fair and efficiient matter could have helped many of the caucuses who struggled to come with ANY idea about how to do it.

        1. I don’t mean to over simplify, but I, long ago, worked for a company that sometimes handled non-profit’s conventions.  And I have to say that a bigger crowd meant that you just got a bigger space and printed more materials, otherwise, the rules stayed the same.  My point is that not having a game plan for handling all of your bigger issues (not a general your, I’m referring to your post) can’t really be blamed on the number of people that showed up.  Maybe I’m being too hard on the organizers and it had more to do with new comers in general vs. volume, which would particularly explain the last part of your post.  In all the years that I’ve participated in the events leading up to the general election, I’ve never before been the most seasoned at the table.  Without being really behind the party scene, I don’t know what the weak link was, but somewhere in this thread, someone hit it.

        2. that come on top of the basic space rental that were foreseen in advance, but not as far in advance as we would have hoped (i.e. not when the original budget was drawn up in October 2007).

          On the flip side, even with add on costs, any of the handful of other possible venues considered in the early stages that could have accomodated enough people would have cost more.

          Constructive suggestions at for the next time around are welcomed.

  6. I am definitely surprised that all of the candidates from HD8 got on the ballot(mathematically speaking), but to call it a lose for McCann doesn’t ring true in my head as she took top line on the ballot.  Especially considering the fact that County Assembly is attended by an extremely selective crowd of Democrats, which I think plays to Cindy’s strength as president of the young democrats.  This also plays to Matt’s strength who has been working these people for close to a year now.  I guess at the end of the day McCann does have more name recognition, but when taking into consideration the voting population, I think it speaks volumes about McCann’s work ethic to pound the pavement and reach out to these hardcore dems.  If she can keep this up through the primary season, I think it bodes well for her.  Reminds me of people like Andy Romanoff and Ken Gordon who made it their number one priority to knock on doors and listen to their consituents.  Beth definitely has some of that going on for her, but either way I think this will be a hard fought race for all the candidates and should be fun to watch.

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