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.