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In Greeley last fall, several people told me they were voting for Bush, Coors, Musgrave and Democrat Jim Riesberg. People are often more willing to stray from party affiliation for local races, and that allows strong leaders and real issues to win out. I was wondering if you could comment on the challenge of extending this trend to statewide elections like the race for governor. Especially in light of Ken Salazar's statewide win in 2004.

Thanks for doing this!


Jenn: In a state like Colorado, recruiting the right candidate is critical. Colorado voters have a history of mixing and matching their votes, and polling confirms that voters here are willing to cross party lines to vote for the stronger candidate. Remember, only 30% of Colorado's voters are Democrats, so for us to win statewide races we need to have candidates who can expand our universe and reach out to unaffiliated voters.

Donald E. L. Johnson

Last year the Democrats got several breaks in Colorado, while the Republicans, basically, got their comeuppance.

Three multi-millionaires were so enraged by the GOP legislature that they put up big bucks to support Democrats, and they won. Can you count on such sugar daddies to help you retain the legislature, or are you on your own?

Republicans fielded some outspoken, outrageous and unacceptable candidates for the legislature last year, and they were easy pickings for the Democrats. Do you see such easy pickings for 2006?

The presidential campaign was close and generated a much bigger than normal turnout, apparently helping the Democrats win in 2004. How important is turnout to the success of Democrats in the gubernatorial and legislative races?

Colorado Republicans have a strong ground campaign even though it came up short in 2004 at the state level; what are you doing to match that GOP 96-hour campaign closing campaign?

Finally, what do you look for in a state senate and house candidate?


Ter Ducken

It's great that you're doing this, and congratulations on '04.

Locally, do you think it's harder to defend a newly taken seat or to beat an incumbent and why?


That's quite a few questions in one email, I'll take a shot at a few of them...
I hope you understand that I don't know anything about whatever outside investments others want to make into 527's, so I have no idea regarding the answer to your first question. I only know about the money that flows through the state party.
As far as 'easy pickings', I'd disagree with that assessment. The GOP ran some tough candidates for the legislature in 2004 but we had better ones.
As far as what we look for in state legislative canidates, in general you're always looking for someone who has strong ties to the community they hope to serve and for people who are willing to do the hard work that comes with a legislative race, lots of phone calls and lots and lots of walking. Legislative races require a huge commitment to retail politics.


It's always hardest to defeat an incumbent, there are just so many advantages built in, but then the most vulnerable race anyone has is their first re-election campaign, so both are priorities.


Hi Chris - Thanks for doing this today. It's good to get a Democratic voice in these Q&As! (hint hint to the Colorado Pols - your bias has been showing...)

Anyway, you mentioned the 6th District Congressional seat as one the Democrats might be interested in. As a resident of the 6th, that seems to be a pretty tall order. However, with Tom Tancredo off trying to make a name in national politics, people have speculated he might give up his seat. What is the more appealing scenario in the 6th: an open seat race against a more moderate Republican or having Tancredo and his single-issue baggage as an opponent?


Tancredo has not said that he's thinking about stepping down from his seat to run for President, so we presume he's their canidate in '06, which is just fine by us. He's never raised much money, he regularly says and does pretty outrageous things and he appears to be fixated on this issue of immigration. I think we have a real opportunity there if we can find a strong candidate.


Do you think that the early candidacy announcements are a good thing? There are already people running for State House seats, 3 months after the last election. What do you recommend to people you know are going to run?

Ed Luva

i noticed you didn't mention Hickenlooper in your govnor candidates? is that just because he hasn't publicly said he is looking at running, or do you think he won't run?

thanks for making yourself available today.


I'm not surprised to hear this, I think that longer campaigns are the inevitable result of the combination of term limits and campaign finance reform. People feel the need to stake out their turf/seat early on and, because the giving limits are relatively low under A27, you need to start raising money earlier to run a competitive campaign. But it does seem pretty early...


What lessons do you think other states can learn from the Democrats strength in the elections last year? Do you see this as a western state phenomenon, or can the success Democrats had translate into other parts of the country?


Ed: I could be wrong, but my impression is that Mayor Hickenlooper is in fact not running for Governor right now, he enjoys being Mayor and I think he's doing an incredibly good job for the City and County of Denver. But if he ever chooses to run for statewide office, he'd obviously be a very formidable candidate.


Julio: A couple of responses, I think there is much that other states can learn from our success here and we've spent a lot of time talking with other state parties around the country and the DNC about our experience in the last cycle. Also, I think the success we had in both Colorado and Montana reminds people that the west is fertile territory for the Democratic Party. Our party needs an aggressive western states strategy, and Howard Dean agrees with this and is going to be spending a lot of time and resources in the west.


Chris, thanks for taking this time. Could you follow up on your comment that "we'll work especially hard to bring even more grassroots energy into our party". Obviously, I'm not asking you to give up proprietary party information, but could you give specific details or a description of a plan to better involve the grass roots efforts in the future in Colorado.


Isaac: In years past, we would beg folks to volunteer for the state party and it was a very tough sell, nearly impossible to get people to come down to headquarters to help out. Those times have changed, we now have a data-base of thousands of people who want to be more involved. I've committed to bringing on a full-time Grassroots Coordinator who can chanel that energy to where it needs to go. And that's not just the state party. One of the things we can do is be a referral service, basically connecting volunteers with county parties, legislative campaigns, congressional races, etc. We also need to do more in the way of training, we've got to help people learn more about how the process works so that folks who are new to the system can be more effective. We'll also be working much more closely with county parties, so there is going to be a major emphasis on this area. This is a great opportunity to grow our party.

Jen L

Republicans could have as many as three candidates for governor soon, and if Nighthorse and Norton run, that could up to 5! What do you think are the advantages and/or disadvantages to having that many candidates runniong on the same side?



Jen: I think it'd be great is five or six Republicans got in the race for Governor, they seem to be adept at going after each other thse days and they'd burn through quite a bit of money doing it. I think one of the new realities of politics under Amendment 27 is that people will figure out that primaries are a huge drain of energy and resources. And regarding Campbell, my understanding is that there are still several ethics investigations pending of his Senate office, so I'm not sure he's in a position to be a candidate.


Although there is a lot of focus on the Governor's race and maintaining our majority in the house and the senate, do we have any strong/interested candidates for Treasurer and Sec. of State?


Manny: For Treasurer, I know that Chris Romer, the son of the former Governor, has been looking hard at that race. And I also know that some folks have been encouraging Joanna Conti, our former congressional candidate in the 6th, to think about that race. Both would be very strong candidates. For SoS, I know of four folks, all current elected officials, who are examining their options but none want to go public quite yet. We are determined to nomiate a strong and diverse group of candidates for these statewide positions.

Johnnie Rockets

what do you think will change with the gop strategy with a new chair in place? with halaby out will they be a different party in any respect?

cool to have you on here!


JR: Let's be clear, Ted Halaby got a raw deal, he did everything he was supposed to do as state chair and he's a good guy. Gov. Owens was the guy who dropped the ball--he's personally responsible for the candidacies of Coors and Walcher--and yet they made Ted fall on his sword, it was unfair. That said, I think we can expect them to be more aggressive than they were last time in a whole variety of areas. As hard as we worked in 2004, we're going to have to work twice as hard in 2006 to retain and expand our majorities because the other side is mad and they'll be coming at us hard.



Thanks for doing this. We really appreciate your time.

Could you size up the 2006 race in CO-7 for us? Who do we Dems have to run against Beauprez? Would you say that that's our best shot for a pickup or would that be in 4 or 6?


All: I've tried to be as responsive as possible today, but I'm now off to a couple of meetings so will be going off line for a few hours. I will be back on line later this evening and I will try to catch up with any additional questions that come in. I've enjoyed the experience and hope that it's been a helpful exchange.


Andrew: It's too early to be naming names, but we've got good folks looking at both CD7 and CD4, both of them will be targets for us in '06. CD7 is a competitive seat just based on the math, the numbers are good there for us and Bob B. hasn't done anything special. CD4 is worth investing in because Musgrave is so far out on the fringe of her own party. CD6 is a bit tougher, the numbers aren't great there, but if Tancredo keeps up with his quixotic presidential campaign, we will go after that one hard.

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