Democratic revelers, young and not so young, celebrate at Governor’s Mansion

By Ernest Luning
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

See complete photo spread in our print edition.

More than 100 Denver Young Democrats gathered to ring in the holidays along with some of their elders at the Governor’s Residence in Denver on Dec. 7.

Rep.-elect Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, left, visits with state Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, and Romer’s daughter Rachel, who is postponing her studies at Harvard Business School to work on her father’s mayoral campaign.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
State Rep. Paul Weissmann of Louisville, soon to be the new chief of staff for the House Democrats, chats with outgoing state Rep. Debbie Benefield, D-Arvada.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Denver Young Democrats President Chris Laughlin addresses guests at the holiday party held at the Governor’s Residence on Dec. 7.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Denver Young Democrats event coordinator Julie DeSisto takes a moment to enjoy the party she helped throw along with Jason Krueger, who runs fundraising for the Young Dems, and former Young Dems officer Christopher Moyer.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Jovan Melton, left, who ran a pair of successful Democratic state House campaigns this year, talks politics with Square State owner and blogger Sarah Fong and Ian Silveri, an organizer with the House Majority Project.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Denver Young Democrats Sarah Anderson, Tara Moberly, Aneka Patel and Stephanie Lind enjoy this year’s holiday festivities at the Governor’s Residence.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

The annual affair saw a near-capacity crowd enjoying the festive surroundings, including decorations on loan from the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys depicting life at the turn of the last century, when the Boettcher Mansion was built. Every room had its own Christmas tree and one was encircled with historic model trains.

Outgoing House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville — who plans to stick around the Capitol as chief of staff for the House Democrats, though next session they’ll be in the minority by a single vote — welcomed the partiers wearing a floppy Santa hat.

“Happy seventh night, if you swing that way. Eighteen days to go, if you swing that way,” he said.

Weissmann went on to remind the gathered Democrats that losing control of the state House didn’t mean the party had given up responsibility to govern.

“We’re looking forward to the next year — we’d be looking more forward if the voters didn’t suck, if we’d won another seat,” Weissmann cracked. “But we have what we have, and we know we’ll still be able to govern and lead the state forward.”

After introducing a dozen Democratic lawmakers scattered in the crowd, Weissmann issued a plea to the Young Dems: “We’re the conduit to policy, and you guys oftentimes are the ones that hear and have the time to help us with that,” he said. “Don’t be shy to help us out.”

It’s a theme that was echoed by Susan Daggett, wife of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who survived a razor-close election against Republican Ken Buck.

“It’s so wonderful to be here and see so many great, familiar faces and friends and not be asking you for anything,” said Daggett, who added that 2010 has been “a tough year” all around. In addition to the exhausting Senate campaign — that wrung out a Democratic victory in a year when incumbents fell across the country, “It was a year for heartbreak as well for us, because some of the people we really believe in strongly couldn’t pull it off,” she said.

“Michael has been back now for three weeks in the lamest of lame-duck sessions,” Daggett said with a grin, noting that the Senate was spending its time impeaching a Southern judge while “there’s a million important things we need to be addressing.”

“It was such a small margin in this state, the margin was so close in our race, that it is fair to say that whatever each of you did individually made an enormous difference,” she said. “It is a year when every dollar counted, every vote counted, every email that you sent, every phone call you made, everybody you brought to the polls made a real difference.”

Noting that Bennet will be back home — “right down the street” — every weekend, she said the senator recently told his staff “he wanted to spend the next year really thinking and talking to people about what the future looks like and how to really address some of the problems we’re facing.” In that vein, she said, Bennet will be “looking to you for guidance,” and she urged everyone to contact the Senate office to set up times to meet with Bennet when he is in the state.

Party-goers brought toys, which were donated to the Tennyson Center for Children, devoted to helping abused, neglected and at-risk children.

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com