Campaigns for district attorney have been providing plenty of surprises this caucus season. Two weeks ago, Caryn Datz pulled a surprise upset at the Judicial District 17 Assembly, scooping up 74% of the vote from delegates and keeping (for now, at least) incumbent District Attorney Dave Young from even appearing on the June 28 ballot.
On Saturday in Denver, the crowded race for District Attorney provided another surprising result: Michael Carrigan emerged from the Denver Democrats’ Assembly with topline on the Primary ballot, beating out Democratic Rep. Beth McCann with more than 50% of the vote.
We’ve long written in this space that Carrigan is a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination for District Attorney (the winner of the Democratic Primary in Denver will almost assuredly go on to win the General Election) because he is a dogged campaigner — he’s been campaigning for essentially two years now — who leads all challengers in fundraising and endorsements by a wide margin. The one place where McCann should have had a natural advantage was within the caucus process itself, where she entered Saturday’s assembly with somewhere in the neighborhood of 33% of Democratic caucus attendees.
Losing at the caucus doesn’t necessarily portend bad things in the Primary. In the 2004 race for Denver DA, McCann bested Mitch Morrissey at the Democratic convention and went on to get pummeled in the Primary by…yes, Morrissey himself. But Carrigan’s big caucus victory is important because it essentially blocks off the last clear path for anyone else to win the Democratic Primary (Kenneth Boyd of the Denver DA’s office is also in the race, but is petitioning onto the ballot). McCann isn’t going to catch Carrigan in fundraising or endorsements, and based on the effectiveness of Carrigan’s ground game over the last few weeks, she won’t have an advantage there, either.
The last full fundraising quarter for this race wraps up in a few weeks, so there aren’t a lot of opportunities left for McCann or Boyd to really outshine Carrigan (it doesn’t help that neither McCann nor Boyd are operating with campaign managers for the time being). There’s still time for something interesting to happen that might change the dynamic of this race, but as it looks today, Carrigan seems to have blocked off every conceivable path to victory for anyone not named Michael Carrigan.