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May 09, 2009 06:36 AM UTC

Filling Peter Groff's Senate Seat in SD 33

  • by: Steve Harvey

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Monday, May 11 the Denver Democrats Senate District 33 vacancy committee will vote on which of six candidates will be selected to fill Peter Groff’s senate seat.

There are several excellent candidates:

Bios of the candidates in The Colorado Statesman

The Candidates speaking at the candidate forum

Michael Johnston and Anthony Graves stand out ahead of the pack, but I think that Anthony best exhibits the combination of qualities that makes for a truly excellent statesman.

Which of the candidates should be selected to fill the vacancy in SD 33?

View Results

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47 thoughts on “Filling Peter Groff’s Senate Seat in SD 33

  1. Graves has a business background, cut his teeth on politics with his election to the DNC, and has poise, charisma, and an Obama-like following (in a positive way).  He’s young and this would launch him to be one of our Party’s future leaders.

      1. All I did was ask a question.  Most Democrats in the legislature never, ever break with the teachers unions.  It’s pathetic.  Groff has been a good guy on education, willing to do the right thing.  All I want to know is whether any of them are open to education reform.  

        1. paying teachers more so we can get better teachers then yes, I would like to know which of these potentials is working with the unions to accomplish this goal.

            1. Mandatory teaching certificate requirements have pushed a number of aspiring teachers (including myself) into private or international teaching.

              DPS wouldn’t have me, but one of the best high schools in South Korea would…

                  1. 5 to 6 years of post-secondary education?  just for the ability to teach other peoples’ children?  such a draconian requirement.  next they’ll expect multiple years of training just to operate on people

                  2. If you are competent to teach in a high demand discipline, or have high demand skills, you can often get your certificate through a “teacher-in-residence” program, in which you start teaching right away, while taking evening classes for a year, and being in the program for two, after which you get your certificate (requiring also a passing grade on the PLACE exam).

                    In DPS, the starting pay-rate for TiRs is slightly below the entry rate for other beginning teachers with only a BA and a certificate, regardless of how much post-BA education you have; in Jeffco, it is commensurate with what your pay-level would be were you to enter by any other means. Unfortunately, I entered DPS as a teacher-in-resident, with enough post-BA education to put me in the second-highest pay-tier by education, but without benefitting from it.

                    Of the many crippling, glaringly dysfunctional structural problems with American public education, I, personally, don’t rank teacher certification requirements high on the list (though, certainly, any inflexible rule will inevitably be too-loosely-woven net, letting very high quality teachers slip through it by failing to meet the rigid requirements).

  2. She’s already been a state legislator for HD-8, which is a significant portion of SD-33.

    Anthony Graves and Michael Johnston would also be fine choices.

    1. Rosemary Marshall:

      The Candidate the Insurance Companies Love the Most

      Rosemary was the strongest ally of the Insurance industry in the Democratic caucus. As Chair of the Business and Labor Committee she helped defeat many pro consumer and pro union bills.  I don’t think a Democrat in name only should replace Peter Groff.

      1. has a temper problem and sees racial bias in everything.  While I appreciate sensitivity to that issue, it is not always hiding behind every corner, and does not define every issue.  

  3. And I have to say I favor Anthony Graves.

    Rosemary’s endorsement of Matt Bergles as her replacement may not have done her more good than bad, depending on the make-up of the vacancy committee.

    Don’t get me wrong, Matt’s a good man and would have served the office well, but Beth McCann won and Cindy Lowery’s now the County Party Democratic Chair.  Surely the vacancy committee knows them.

  4. Michael Johnston was covered in a Westword article.

    Any of the three candidates have a chance to take this seat, and the final selection is likely to boil down to how the third place votes split. In the 2000 census, the district was 30-40% latino, 30-40% black. Today, it may be fair to assume 1/3 split between white, black and latino. While I don’t think any of the candidates has a lock on the win, I’m (totally) guessing the first ballot will be something like 39/34/27 (Marshall, Johnston, Graves), with the final 50/50 Marshall vs Johnston.

    Staging Ground for Diana DeGette’s Replacement?

    SD-33 is a heavily democratic part of Denver, and the winner of this race may be positioned to someday replace Diana DeGette.

    For what it is worth, HD-8 Terrance Carroll is endorsing Rosemary Marshall. SD-33 Senator Groff is not committing. Mateos Alvarez withdrew, endorsing Anthony Graves.

    Rosemary Marshall’s main claim to fame is several terms serving in the House. She has strong connections to the traditional NE Denver political establishment. This would include the historical African American groups, but also a number of individuals working their way up the network like Matt Bergles.

    Anthony Graves has a history degree and an MBA, plus corporate sales experience (Sun Microsystems), and he grew up in the neighborhood. He gained some attention as an Obama delegate to the DNC convention, and then became a member of the DNC. For a local, young African American guy made good, it is interesting that he isn’t being nurtured by influential NE Denver politicians. You get the sense that he earned the DNC appointment by hustling on his own.

    Michael Johnston has an education degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale. Ironically, he reminds me of a white Barack Obama. He has written a book about his experiences teaching in Mississippi. He has a law degree but chose public service over the corporate grind. He’s the principal of an alternative high school in Adams County that Barack Obama famously visited last year. Johnston served Obama as a key education policy advisor while he was running for office, as well as during the transition. He turned down a post in the administration.

    Rosemary Marshal has long-term connections and legislative experience, while Anthony Graves and Michael Johnston are younger and probably have long-term aspirations; SD-33 is likely to serve as a starting point for their political careers. Of the two, Johnston clearly has much more policy experience, specifically in Education issues.

    I’ve met all three of these candidates. They are all well-spoken, with attractive personalities, and it is clear that any of them would serve as worthy Democrats. How the candidates stand on specific policies is uncertain, as Marshal doesn’t have a long list of legislative successes, and Graves and Johnston don’t have a voting record.  

    1. The Democratic National Committee is made up of three groups of people, those who serve by right of some other position they hold (like State Party Chairs), those who are appointed by the National Chair (Ramona Martinez fits in that category), and those who are elected by the democrats in their state.

      Anthony fits in the last category. He was elected out of a very large field of people running at the Dem’s State Assembly last summer. Three people were elected in that race, the other two were both incumbents. I know some people think of intraparty elections as “appointments” but when you consider there were 5000 people voting to fill 3 slots, it sounds like an election to me.

      Anthony campaigned hard for the position and won it (and rightfully so in my opinion). The same can be said for his being elected to the National Convention. He networks well, he campaigns well, and he goes out there and works hard for he has achieved so far. And he has remembered the party folk that elected him after he got it too. He has been very active with the state and Denver Dems ever since. I definitely think of him as a rising star in the party.

      I don’t live in SD33, but if I did, I think I would probably vote for him for the vacancy.

    2. Beth McCann is HD-8.

      Cindy Lowery who ran for HD-8 supports Mike Johnston. Matt Bergles who also ran for HD-8 supports Rosemary Marshall.

        1. I was basing that attribution on imagination rather than primary source. Cindy did clarify that she is not endorsing, although she does have a vote in the end.

  5.  I hold each of our esteemed candidates in very high regard and think most of them would serve us very well. In my heart, mind and spirit I have identified the candidate who stands out just a bit more with regard to creativity in thought and ideas and solutions; and with incredibly successful past goal attainment against great odds through team/coalition building and with strong leadership skills.

    On Monday night I will be voting for and strongly supporting Mike Johnston to be our next State Senator.

  6. After talking with all three candidates for a long time I have decided that Anthony Graves is the best for the job. He’s lived in the community for a long time in fact he still does. Right now he lives in five points. Also he genuinely supports the community through his volunteer efforts with his youth leadership group. Plus I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him. As a side note I was pretty impressed by his fluency in french and all of his international experience. It would be good for the man who will represent the senate district that includes DIA to use his international contacts to bring in more jobs and investment into SD-33. For all of that and for a few other reasons I’m supporting Anthony Graves.

  7. It is so important to note how connected Graves is to SD33. Although I don’t live in SD33, I am very close to the district (I live in SD31). I have seen first hand how Anthony has changed the lives of youth in the area, and how driven the man is in general. He was elected as an Obama delegate and to the DNC by simply working hard and networking!

    See this Rocky Mountain News article from the Denver primaries:

    His stamina and drive is quite impressive. The portfolio of life experiences that he brings to the table would be an asset to the district and Colorado in general. Whether it’s business accumen, or political instinct, Anthony has what it takes to be one of the best statesmen to come out of Denver. Make the smart choice PCP’s! Vote for Anthony Graves!!!

  8. From the moment of Sen. Groff’s announcement, I’ve felt that this senate seat is too important for ordinary folks like me to sit on the sidelines and let the “influential NE Denver politicians” coronate Rosemary as our next state senator.  I made it a point to listen to all the candidates on several occasions and I find that Anthony Graves outshines the others in terms of meaningful community service, professional experience, educational background, innovative ideas, and limitless potential. While I appreciate Rosemary’s past service to this community, it’s clear to me that Graves truly values the opportunity to represent the “ordinary” people of SD33.  

  9. I agree that all 3 candidates have strengths.  I have met with all 3 and they are all very talented.  However, Mike Johnston outshines the other two due to his creativity, tenacity, and sincerity.  I hope that the PCPs in SD 33 will vote based on substance, and not based on loyalty, race, or the tired “he’s lived here forever” BS.  There are too many pressing issues in SD 33 – there is no time to waste – we need a strong candidate who will fight for us. I don’t care what color he is or where he grew up.

    1. Yeah cause we want someone who knows nothing about the district and just moved here less than 2 years ago to be the next state senator. Classic

      1. Who are you talking about?  None of the candidates have lived in 33 less than two years.

        The reason I don’t believe length of time in district is particularly relevant in this race is because most of the issues this Senator will be working on are issues that face the state (and the U.S.) as a whole – health care, economic development, education, etc.  Where a candidate went to high school matters less to me than what a candidate plans to do about health care.

        1. Falcons throws out a charge that’s pulled from thin air and isn’t remotely true. Johnston has lived in the district five years, not “less than 2 years,” but it’s unclear who “knows nothing about the district,” since all the candidates know plenty about it.

  10. I attended the debates the other night, and like so many, I was impressed with the two fresh, young men on the podium.

    I was not impressed with Rosemary Marshall (although I have liked her in the past) who seemed to pull a John McCain parroting “I have the experience” over and over, instead of sharing with us what she would or would not do. And like the recent Presidential election, ‘same ol’/ same ol’politicking ‘ is not what the people want, or need.

    Michael Johnston impressed me (esp. when he busted out an answer in fluent Spanish- nice!)but I couldnt help but want him to stay put. Although Mike may want to bust out of his pigeon hole, for the greater good of our struggling educational reform, it is dire to keep young people with fresh ideas in that process. I feel like he hasnt finished what he has started over there and it is imperative to keep the education reform wheels moving forward.

    And so just one man is left standing, and he rises so eloquently to the top. Anthony Graves, who keeps showing up EVERYWHERE with a detailed platform made of integrity and (dare I say) honesty. He seems to be such a well rounded individual and always has a neighbor bending his ear. This man just gets it and his heart seems to be the driving force behind it all. Mateos Alvarez and Wellington Webb are among the people who support him, and Anthony Graves is just simply the clear and obvious choice for SD33.

    Tonight: Vote for Anthony Graves

  11. How you all can say, “without a doubt,” etc just indicates to me that you’re just shilling for your candidate.

    I consider myself a pragmatist.  Both Graves and Johnston have bright futures.  Of the two, I’d go for Johnston as Graves  strikes me as less practiced politically.  Getting elected for DNC means that you achieved the most name recognition – yes, through BRIEF campaigning w/ an insider group – no need to fundraise, prove your politics, or walk the district.

    The reason I went for Marshall is that she totally gets the Capitol and the machinations therein, which any amount of Obama wave-borne optimism is not going to undo.  In listening to the speeches Thursday, her words wielded the most wisdom; the gentlemen – clearly better speechmakers – spoke as though they were running for President.  The specifics of most State issues elude them – especially Graves.   That said, I would still have voted for Johnston except: there will be hard-bargaining over redistricting after the 2010 census.  W/ Carroll term-limited, we will have no institutional knowledge/leadership/bargaining ability w/o Rosemary.   The newbie PCPs (fresh off the Obama campaign w/ little-to-no mundane political experience) discount that, or are blissfully ignorant of that, but it really counts for me.  Fred Brown had a great editorial today on the repercussions of term limits on institutional knowledge.

    And Rosemary doing “nothing?”  Come on!  Here’s a link:

    Like she says, she can’t fake what she’s done; it’s public record.  Johnston’s “100 % graduation rate” is only a manipulation of numbers.  

    On an emotional level, Johnston is way more compelling that RM; even Graves is.  So I feel it’s likely that one of them will leave the final ballot tonight as our next State Senator.

  12. Congratulations, Michael! While I thought Anthony Graves would have been the best choice, Michael is very impressive as well, and I look forward to seeing the good work he does on behalf of his district and our state.

    1. Turnout was 126 of 146 possible, which is an amazing 86%., So 50% plus one vote was 64, and  Johnston won by a hair on the first ballot. Rosemary Marshall got something in the 40s, but I couldn’t hear for all the cheering. Anthony Graves got 18 votes, despite his hustle and the enthusiasm of his supporters.

      Johnston’s speech was very nice, riffing on the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence, and calling for satisfying the promise of equality for all.

      You get the sense that Johnston (not to mention, Graves) are going places.

      1. Exactly right, 50 percent plus one, and Johnston got what he needed.

        Vote was Johnston 64, Marshall 41, Graves 18, Blanchard 0. Apparently three ballots were filled out incorrectly so were spoiled, as 126 votes were cast.

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