Denver Democrats gathered to mingle, hear from elected officials and state party hopefuls, sign petitions for municipal candidates and pick party leaders for the next two years at Place Bridge Academy in Denver on Feb. 12.
“The state of the party is pretty damn healthy, and that’s because of all of the people in the audience,” said Denver Chair Cindy Lowery-Grabler, who won a second term without opposition. She thanked county central committee members for last fall’s strong get-out-the-vote effort, which provided the margin to elect U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, and said county officers and volunteers had done a stellar job organizing Democrats all around.
“The reason why I believe in the Democratic Party is not because I’m looking for a name or a title or anything like that, but because I believe in all of the work that you all do,” she told the more than 300 Democrats seated in the auditorium. “I promise that if I’m reelected as your chair, I will continue to fight for you and for all of the work that you’re doing and the candidates you support and the issues you support.”
“I’m so proud to be a Denver Democrat, as always,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette. “You feel like I do, that we are the party that stands up for working class, middle Americans, that we are the party that stands up for jobs and education, we are the party that stands up for high quality health care for everybody.”
She went on to rally Democrats with a report from Washington full of dire warnings about the agenda of the new Republican House majority.
“We all believe in balancing our budget, we all believe in reducing our deficit,” she said. “But if you cut too much, then what you do is you don’t increase our economic activity and jobs. What you do is you actually stop this promising recovery, and you cut thousands and thousands of jobs around the country.”
DeGette said House Republicans were planning to pass a Draconian budget resolution this week and enumerated billions in cuts to favorite Democratic projects, including schools, alternative energy and birth control for poor women.
“This budget proposal — as well as cutting key jobs in our community — actually attacks women, children and the poor,” she said. “It’s really criminal, it’s really criminal.” She said the Tea Party’s influence on the Republican House meant an unacceptable budget was sure to pass out of that chamber and urged Democrats to gird for the battle. “It’s our job every day to go out there and tell the American people just how extreme this agenda is, how it’s wrong for Americans.”
“I’ve been in Congress for 14 years,” she said. “Ten of them were in the minority, and only four in the majority, and I’ve got to tell you, the latter is better. I’m extremely good at being in the minority, because I’m extremely good at standing up for what all of us collectively believe in, but I’m done with it, so let’s go out and fight.”
In the day’s only contested race for party officers, assistant treasurer Susan Rogers unseated incumbent party Vice Chair Jennifer Jacobsen by a 202-146 vote. Both candidates were nominated by state representatives from Denver — Lois Court introduced Jacobsen and Mark Ferrandino endorsed Rogers — and both stressed their prowess at fundraising for the party.
Julie Kronenberger, who has worked as the county party’s fundraising chair, was elected secretary by acclamation after incumbent Owen Perkins decided against a second term. Treasurer Ed Hall ran unopposed for another term.
The three Democrats running for state party chair — in an election set for March 5 in Denver before the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner — turned out backers in force at the reorganization meeting. Former state Sen. Polly Baca, past Larimer County Chair Adam Bowen and legislative aide Rick Palacio all angled for support and filled lapels with stickers in what has remained so far a friendly rivalry.
Candidates for mayor and city council crowded the lobby with tables full of brochures and nominating petitions for Democrats to sign. Mayoral candidates pressing the flesh included former state Sen. Chris Romer, accompanied by his father, former Gov. Roy Romer; council members Carol Boigon, Doug Linkhart and Michael Hancock; and Theresa Spahn. City Clerk candidate Tom Downey served up fresh-popped “Tomcorn” and District 11 candidate Steven Lawrence handed out burritos.