Democratic district meeting attracts 38 Summit residents |

Democratic district meeting attracts 38 Summit residents

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

WESTMINSTER ” Traditional stereotypes of smoke-filled back rooms, party hacks, and ballot box corruption appeared dead and buried Saturday when 2nd Congressional District Democrats gathered at Ranum High School in Denver to nominate candidates for the August congressional primary and to delegates the national presidential convention.

Hundreds of those present raised their hands when asked if they were participating in their first ever district assembly. And the 38 Summit County delegates who braved Saturday’s blowing snow to travel to the Front Range meeting reflected the general trend. Silverthorne resident Alice Miller had a seat on the front row in the Ranum auditorium as congressional candidates made eloquent pitches for her vote. At age 82, Miller was elected at the Summit County Democratic assembly in February to represent the county. Her decision to participate in party politics this year points to the fact that enthusiasm in not just a characteristic of youth.

“In all these decades, this is the first time I’ve ever been excited,” she said. Always interested in politics from the sidelines, Miller credited her motivation to get active to the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama.

“I’ve gone to the voting booth too often and voted for the lesser of two ” or sometimes three ” candidates,” she said. With Obama, she’s finally found a candidate she can believe in.

Breckenridge’s Maya Barr, 27, echoed Miller’s excitement from the other end of the age spectrum.

“This is the first time I haven’t had to vote with an absentee ballot because I’ve always been a student before,” she said.

Summit Obama supporters weren’t the only first timers.

“I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far,” said Clinton delegate and Blue River resident Rayanne Harris, 29, also an assembly rookie. “This is great.”

In Colorado’s complex caucus system, most of the state delegates to August’s Democratic National Convention are either superdelegates or will be selected later this month at the party’s state convention. A handful are chosen directly at the district level, however, so Saturday’s 872-delegate gathering served two purposes: to nominate congressional and University of Colorado (CU) Board of Regents candidates, and to elect presidential convention delegates.

In addition to voting for Obama at Saturday’s convention, Miller also cast a vote to place former Colorado State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald’s name on the Aug. 12 congressional primary ballot. Fitz-Gerald and Internet entrepreneur and former Colorado Board of Education Chairman Jared Polis went through the process begun at the Feb. 5 local party caucuses to get spots on the primary ballot. Saturday’s delegate vote ” 61 percent for Fitz-Gerald and 39 percent for Polis ” means ballot placement for both, and continuation of one of the most expensive congressional primary races in the country.

Two other Democratic congressional candidates ” conservationist Will Shafroth and educator Larry Johnson ” are both seeking inclusion on the primary ballot through petition, rather than through the caucus process.

In the CU Board of Regents contest, only one candidate ” Joe Neguse ” reached the vote threshold required for nomination on Saturday.

It’s impossible to predict what impact the large numbers of rookie participants will have on the future of the complicated and sometimes confusing caucus system.

Brandishing a “Polis for Congress” placard during a break in the action, Silverthorne resident and assembly newbie Julie Schmidt admitted her excitement, but also cast an analytical eye on the crowded proceedings,

“It’s a huge eye-opener,” she said. “But I think in some ways it’s archaic ” with all the technology we have available today.”

Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District includes Summit, Eagle, Grand, Clear Creek, Broomfield, and Gilpin counties, as well as the city of Boulder and parts of several other Front Range counties. For complete results of the 2nd District Convention and Assembly, visit

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