Letters to the Editor

Open Letter to President Barack Obama, Democratic National Committee Officers and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

As former members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), we had the honor of serving as staff or DNC members for a collective total of 38 years between 1971 and 2010. During our service on the DNC, no sitting Democratic President of the United States ever became involved in a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. When I (Polly) was Vice Chair of the National Democratic Party (1981-89), I pledged prior to my election that I would not be involved in any Democratic primary race, which was the norm for national Party Officers.

Former state Sen. and former Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Polly Baca, center, joined other former Democratic Party officials at a news conference outside state party headquarters Feb. 16 to ask President Barack Obama to stay out of the U.S. Senate primary between U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Obama was set to appear at a series of fundraisers for Bennet in Denver that week. Baca, who has endorsed Romanoff, expressed “dismay and alarm” that the president and some party groups are backing Bennet. Julia Ann Hicks, past vice chair of the state party, left, and Dick Barkey, past Jefferson County party chairman, right, echoed Baca’s remarks.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

We are alarmed that this long-standing tradition has been violated by the current National Democratic Party and our current President, whom we both supported for election. It is inappropriate and unacceptable for national Democratic Party officials and the President of the United States, who is the titular head of the Democratic Party, to engage in Democratic primaries. Colorado Democrats have the inalienable right and intelligence to select their own candidate for the highest political position in the state without interference from our Democratic leaders in D.C. who are supposed to be supportive of our local parties and candidates.

We are further distressed by the thousands of phone calls coming into our state from people hired by the DNC Organizing for America (OFA) group who have been given phone scripts telling Colorado Democrats how to vote. Colorado Democrats have the knowledge and wisdom to think for themselves and make their own decisions without someone who is not a Colorado voter telling them how to vote. We resent the fact that money we have contributed to the National Democratic Party is being given to OFA organizers to interfere in our U.S. Senate primary.

The “Preamble” of the charter of the national Democratic Party states “that a political party which wishes to lead must listen to those it would lead, a party which asks for the people’s trust must prove that it trusts the people.” We urge you to trust the people of Colorado, without influence from Washington, D.C., to select their nominee for the United States Senate. We respectfully request that the President and other Democratic Party entities, specifically the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the DNC Organizing for America, cease their actions in the Colorado primary for the United States Senate.

We agree with the former Vice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, Ms. Julia Hicks, an early supporter of President Obama and an Obama delegate to the 2008 National Democratic Convention, who said, “I am stunned that our sitting Democratic President is getting involved in our (Colorado) primary process. I want to know what the President will do if the person he supports doesn’t come out of our caucus, or better yet, gets on the ballot and loses the Primary election. We support President Obama and we fought to get him nominated here in Colorado, but he should stay out of our Primary process. We are not children and we don’t need the National Party, or the leader of our party, telling us how to vote.”

Another Democratic leader, Mr. Dick Barkey, former Chair of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, said that “As a Colorado Democrat I respect the President but I object to the interference of the President and the White House in our Colorado Democratic Primary Election for the U.S. Senate. The Democratic Party is the people’s party and not the party of wealth, power and privilege. As a party activist, I despise back room deals that select our party nominees and circumvent our Democratic Party processes. I reject being told whom I should vote for by anyone outside our state no matter how powerful or rich they might be. In Colorado we have a well-established process for selecting our own nominee for the U.S. Senate. I have read the Colorado Democratic Party rules and the rules specifically prohibit party officers from endorsing any Democratic candidate in a primary election. The President needs to follow our Colorado rules.”

Former Executive Director of the Colorado Democratic Party, Mr. Darryl Eskin, added that “When I was Executive Director, it was a firm principle that the State Democratic Party not endorse or support primary candidates participating in the party caucus process. It seems that big money still talks louder than the grassroots in the Democratic Party. If that doesn’t change, our current role as the preeminent party nationally and in Colorado will be short lived and the voters will toss us out like yesterday’s newspaper.”

Polly Baca and Ramona Martinez

Baca is a former Colorado state senator (1978-1986), former Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee (1981-1989), served as Special Assistant to the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (1971-1972) and served as a member of the DNC from 1973-1989. Martinez served as a member of the Democratic National Committee for 16 years (1996-2010, Chair and Vice Chair of the DNC Hispanic Caucus (2001-2009) and Secretary of the DNC Women’s Caucus.