Wren disturbs new Dem nest

Ruffles Lowery's feathers

By Janet Simons

Periodic candidate and constant blogger John Wren seems determined to be a thorn in the side of any political party he belongs to, and — after years of being a gadfly in the Denver Republican Party — this time through, it’s the Democrats.

Cindy Lowery

You can practically hear Denver Democratic Party Chair Cindy Lowery roll her eyes over the phone as she addresses Wren’s most recent complaint — that House District 5 Democratic Captain Rita Schweitz had announced her support for Andrew Romanoff at a Denver Executive Committee meeting, then had cancelled the December District 5 meeting and replaced it with a Romanoff for Senate fundraiser scheduled for the same time and place as the cancelled meeting.

“Doesn’t this violate party rules?” asked Wren as he outlined his case in a string of e-mail correspondence cc’d to The Colorado Statesman and Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak. “Shouldn’t the district captain be asked to choose between either working for the U.S. Senate campaign or being a district captain?”

Lowery sighed.

“He’s typically a troublemaker,” she said. “Rita is perfectly within in her rights to be a Romanoff supporter, but he has conveniently manipulated the facts to support his argument.”

Lowery said the HD 5 meeting had been cancelled in favor of a community service event at the Nov. 4 Denver Executive Committee meeting, and not in order to substitute a Romanoff fundraiser.

“If she had cancelled the meeting in order to accommodate a fundraiser, it would have been inappropriate, and I would have spoken to her about it. I would strongly advise officers in any district not to cancel or move a regularly scheduled meeting in favor of a fundraiser for a candidate in a race within the party.

“But that’s not the way it happened,” Lowery said.

Wren isn’t buying it.

“So it was just a coincidence that they held the fundraiser at the same time at the same place on the same day that we ordinarily would have had our district meeting? I don’t believe that,” he scoffed.

The more basic disagreement, however, is over whether it’s appropriate for party officers to take sides in a race between party members.

In answer to Wren’s question over whether this “violates party rules,” Lowery noted that there is a rule against party officers making “official endorsements” in an intra-party contest.

“An endorsement cannot suggest it’s a party endorsement,” Lowery said. “For example, it would be breaking the rule for Rita to say, ‘All the Democrats in House District 5 support Andrew Romanoff over Michael Bennet, and we want you to come to his fundraiser.”

However, she added, personal dedication to a fellow Democrat’s primary campaign is fine — and is, in fact, an essential part of the process.

John Wren

“The people who are active in the party are the ones who are active in the campaigns,” Lowery said. “I understand where he’s coming from, but the ramifications of what he suggests would be so great, it would gut the party. Debates in races within the party are great — they’re democracy at the core.

“It would be impossible to keep party activists from supporting one candidate over another in a primary contest. If I were to pursue that, there wouldn’t be anyone left in the party.”

But that, says Wren, is precisely what he’s advocating.

“Even at the precinct level, party people should stay neutral,” Wren said. “Don’t recruit your supporters from the party leadership. Don’t just go pick over the bones. Build your own organization. There are plenty of people to go around. Listen to all the voices. It will strengthen the system.”

Wren believes that candidates who draw all their early support from active party officers are “packing the caucuses.”

“It’s clearly cheating,” he said. “It’s underhanded.”

Hmm. We asked Wren what he thought of Lowery’s assertion, stated in one of her e-mail responses, that “If we removed every person who supported a primary candidate by hosting a fundraiser or event or volunteering to walk or make calls for a primary candidate, we wouldn’t have an executive committee.”

“I guess I’m like Robert Kennedy,” Wren responded. “Some see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”