Pair of Colorado Democratic Party vice chair elections unresolved after party reorganization

Colorado Democratic Party 1st vice chair candidates David Sabados and Gil Barela mingle before the start of the party's 84th Annual Dinner on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center. Earlier that day, the two wound up tied in voting for the state party officer position. (Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Colorado Democratic Party 1st vice chair candidates David Sabados and Gil Barela mingle before the start of the party’s 84th Annual Dinner on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center. Earlier that day, the two wound up tied in voting for the state party officer position. (Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Colorado Democrats couldn’t pick the party’s two state vice chair officers — 1st vice chair and 2nd vice chair — at a reorganization meeting on Saturday in Denver after one race resulted in a tie and the other failed to produce a winner after three rounds of balloting.

Democratic officials — including the party’s new state chair, former Senate President Morgan Carroll, who won election in a landslide at the same state central committee meeting — said late Saturday that they plan to decide how to proceed on Monday, with options potentially including a coin toss and splitting one of the positions among multiple officers.

While three of the party’s statewide officer elections went smoothly — in addition to Carroll’s convincing win, Martelle Daniels, unopposed for a second term as state party secretary, won by acclamation, and Rita Simas won over Kathleen Ricker for treasurer — the two elections for 1st vice chair and 2nd vice chair were anything but, vexing Democratic officials and leaving candidates hanging for hours as Saturday afternoon turned to evening.

The race for 1st vice chair — the coveted position comes with a seat on the Democratic National Committee — pitted Denver-based consultant and Colorado Young Democrats President David Sabados against Larimer County organizer and former union leader Gil Barela, and by all accounts it was a close one heading into Saturday’s vote.

But no one could have guessed how close until, after the ballots were counted and hours worth of wrangling over credentialing and rules questions had been resolved, Sabados and Barela were tied at 216-216.

While the ballots were cast soon after noon, the election results in the 1st vice chair race weren’t announced — and then only unofficially and by word of mouth — until nearly 7 p.m., when the party’s 84th Annual Dinner got under way in the same ballroom, after hotel staff had been anxiously waiting through the afternoon to clean up the central committee meeting and set up the fancy dinner.

According to the 1st vice chair candidates, they met with Carroll late in the evening as Democrats were gathering for cocktails and a silent auction before the fundraising dinner and agreed that neither would challenge additional ballots, leaving the race tied. Sabados and Barela also said they agreed she could resolve the tie in whatever manner deemed appropriate — casting a tie-breaking vote, if that’s what it appears the rules allow, or perhaps flipping a coin.

However party officials decide to proceed, a senior staffer said, it won’t be until Monday that the party announces next steps.

The results in the race for 2nd vice chair — the office is primarily responsible for outreach to various Democratic Party constituencies — were equally unresolved as Democrats started arriving for the fundraising dinner.

There had initially been three candidates running for 2nd vice chair — former Arapahoe County Democratic Party Chair Pat Shaver, former Democratic National Committeeman Mannie Rodriguez and former Otero County Democratic Party Chair Terrance Hestand — but a fourth candidate, former Bernie Sanders organizer Miguel Ceballos, joined the race just before the other three began their nominating speeches.

Democrats voted, and then they voted again, and then they voted a third time for the position without any of the candidates emerging with a majority, leaving the race undecided as the day waned. (The number of central committee members casting ballots dropped in each round as some Democrats hit the road to return home and others ducked out to change into their finery for the fundraising dinner.)

While party rules don’t require that the lowest vote-getter drop out for subsequent rounds of balloting — more than a few Democrats suggested the party should consider adding that rule — Hestand asked that his name be withdrawn before the third round of voting.

A party official said late Saturday that several options were under consideration to bring the 2nd vice chair election to a conclusion, including calling another central committee meeting or perhaps splitting the office between some combination of the remaining candidates, if a party rules committee agrees. As with the 1st vice chair race, the party plans to decide what to do and announce it on Monday, the official said.

ernest@coloradostatesman.com

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4 Responses to Pair of Colorado Democratic Party vice chair elections unresolved after party reorganization

  1. Miguel Ceballos Ruiz March 12, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you for Covering the Story!

    I was a Bernie Sanders Campaign Staffer : )

  2. Ed Nuhfer March 12, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    Nice job reporting without advocacy! Damn– I wish NYT “journalists” would take a cue from you, Ernest.

  3. TC Bell March 13, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    Mannie Rodriquez played the Bernie supporters like puppets. This seat belongs 100% to Pat Shaver, she shouldn’t have her voice diluted just because Mannie figured out a way to split the vote by having his son encourage Miguel to run for the same seat.

    The appropriate thing to do here is to let her have the seat that she earned Miguel. Mannie has no interest in growing the Party by bringing in new blood that isn’t already registered Dem. As a super delegate to the DNC last year he refused to vote with people like you Miguel because as he said to my face last year “Bernie’s not a Democrat.” Good job, you let this DINO keep his seat at the table at the expense of diluting a powerful woman of color’s voice. You should be so proud.

  4. Rev Fidel "Butch" Montoya April 1, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. He is the only Independent in the USA Senate. If he wants to influence the party, do it as a Democrat.
    Do not understand why those of us who are registered as Democrats should give power, influence and authority to someone who doesn’t even pretend to be a Democrat.
    If this party is genuinely interested in reorgazing, it must be sure to have strong Latino representation in the core leadership group.
    It cannot change without making sure Latinos are heard and listened to.
    The Liberal side must be open to moderate Democratic representation in its reorganization.
    We saw how we lost a sure thing by leaning too far to the Left. Let’s learn our lesson of defeat and make changes, not cosmetic superficial makeup changes to hide our old policy wrinkles.
    Prepared to fight for that kind of change…not same old policies disguised as something new, but still carries the formula to lose again in 2018!

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