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I hate to say it, but I wouldn't be surprised if Gates and his partisans are, shall we say, rather aloof when it comes to the party. I wish Waak's backers all the best, but if the party loses any kind of ground, their reign will over just as quickly as it started.

For what it's worth, I had a chance to speak with her earlier this month, and I'm not at all confident--that's just my gut feeling.


Republicans have to be licking their chops after hearing this news - the guy who oversaw Democrats delivering a humiliating blow to Republicans last year gets tossed from his post. Then again, it's par for the course for the Democratic Party. We seem to have an amazing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

As a Democrat, I certainly hope Waak and her supporters do as well in the next election as Gates did in the past one. Regardless of how we feel, we have to be out there to do everything we can to make that happen. But, somehow I just feel Democrats made a really big mistake today and we're going to pay for it in 2006.


I think that one of the hurdles that we face is exactly that feeling of apprehension. And we wouldn't be feeling it if we were at all confident of Pat's chances. And like I said, I'm not at all confident.

Should you like, Alva et al., I'll write later on about why it is that I'm not confident.


This is horrendous. Colorado Democrats just shot themselves in the foot. Chris did a great job as chair and this is how he gets rewarded.

Alva Adams

By all means, Arkhangel, please continue.


Whoever runs for Governor on the Dem side should be pounding on Gates's door. He will probably have a chunk of free time, and if Gates could help win the Governorship back it would be an 'up yours' to the Waakers.

The only positive is that a large amount of the new elected officals don't need recruitment, only support for re-election. So finding candidates isn't a large obstacle, unless they have the idea of primary challenging conservative Dems.

mountain punditry

hindsight is 20/20 but in the end here, it's safe to say that it was chris gates' ego that lost this election for him. there were quite a few people preaching this gospel months ago and these political prognosticators foresaw a regime change that was necessary to move this party forward. chris gates is very much a divisive figure in colorado democratic politics. by shunning the colorado progressives throughout the course of the last election cycle, all really did was shoot himself in the foot. i wish him the best but in the end, i think we finally have the united democratic party we've all been longing for - both progressives and moderates at the strategic table. this will be the reason democrats win in 2006.


Chris Gates is not who you have to thank for winning back the statehouse, Dems.

Most people regard his departure as good news. And for God's sake he had better stay out of the Gov race...


It's true that Pat Waak hasn't travelled the halls of power and built up a strong insider record the way Gates has. And it's also true that this took most people--even the Democratic Party Central Committee members who voted on it--by surprise. But she has a longer history of organizing and activism than Gates does, and she'll get a lot of support from the existing leaders.

You can call it "horrendous" or say that "Republicans are licking their chops." But after watching Howard Dean's fortunes the last two years, we Democrats realize now this is simply Republican code for "we're scared...very scared."

Good luck Pat! Drop by www.coloradodems.org and give the party a donation to start things off right. Colorado Democrats are united, and 2006 is looking good.


I don't think you can define the Colorado Democratic Party as unified right now. It is unified for Mike Miles supporters. If you want a definition of a split party, just look at the vote yesterday. Add in the fact that Gates and his supporters are challenging the vote and that spells D-I-V-I-S-I-O-N.

Gates screwed up and didn't take the challenege seriously. For that, he paid a huge price. He also did not recognize and do enough to heal the split in the Party. Again, he paid for it.

However, what drove the Miles supporters to oust Gates - and they should be applauded for pulling it off - was anger over the treatment Miles received from the Party leadership in the primary. They blamed Miles' defeat by Salazar on Gates - not on what many of us saw: Miles having nothing resembling a political campaign that could win a statewide race. In fact, he didn't. He couldn't even win the primary.

It's kind of funny that on one hand people point at Gates as the reason for the Miles defeat, but then when it comes to credit for the Democratic victories in November, those same people say Gates had nothing to do with it.

If you're part of the the Miles/Waak side of the party, cheer for your victory and you deserve congratualtions on a job well done. But don't expect those of us who think yesterday was a terrible mistake to buy into any sort of unity talk. You're going to have to show that this move will benefit the Democratic Party in the same way Chris Gates showed his leadership benefitted the party by taking a U.S. Senate seat, a U.S. House seat and the entire state legislature last election. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.

Ter Ducken

I'll have to agree - you guys haven't unified anything. You shouldn't assume your victory is everyone's victory.


There are two comments that I wanted to respond to:

"we finally have the united democratic party we've all been longing for".

I would be inclined to agree with you if you rephrased your statement to read "I and my fellow like-minded Waake supporters now have control of the party that we've been longing for". Due to the how close the vote total was I would make that argument that we have a very fractured party right now.
I think everybody who has an interest in this debate needs to keep in mind that their view isn't the one.

Having said that, personally, I don't see this situation as being that much different than the last Colorado Democratic Convention where Miles narrowly beat out Ken Salazar, only to get trounced by an 80-20ish margin in general primary. The only major difference is that Chris won't get the chance to have a primary which is sad because I think that the majority of Democrats would be in agreement that they are happy with the direction that our state party is going in. But that is just my personal opinion.

"And for God's sake he had better stay out of the Gov race"

I think that this comment speaks to the irrational intolerance that some Miles/Waake supporters have for people with viewpoints different than that of their own. Who are you to say who can or can't be involved in our state's political races?

In summary, I have never been as disappointed in my party as I am today. But its time to let these squables die and start focusing on the next election.


sorry...somebody needs to edit his messages before posting them. :)

Stan Davis

No Miles supporter blamed Gates for not winning the primary. We blamed Gates for trying to keep Mike OUT of the primary.

Further, Gates didn't support the most successful strategy implemented at least in the Metro area: the Register Renters project.

I firmly believe that had Ken Salazar not faced Mike in the primary, he would not have won in November. In May and June, Ken simply wasn't a very good candidate, with fuzzy positions. The primary sharpened Ken's campaign skills and positions. The positive and issues-oriented primary campaigns of both candidates helped the Dems immensely, drawing attention from the Schaffer-Coors battle. Without a primary, the Dems wouldn't have gotten any attention at all.

Gates should get no credit whatsoever for the Dems' success in 2004. That would be to denigrate the great candidates mentored by the likes of Joan Fitz-Gerald who worked their tails off.

Democrats won in 2004 because hundreds, if not thousands, of new activists originally supporting Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Wes Clark, and Mike Miles remained engaged even after their favorites went by the wayside. These new activists, probably 80% of whom voted for Pat Waak, are now available to help Pat be successful. I know that in my case I'll spend some time at 777 Santa Fe, a place I found hostile before.

Have laptop, will travel.

Stan Davis
First time activist, and now CD7 central commmittee member, state central committee member, VP of Senate District 21, and precinct committeeman.


There is still hope that the DNC will do whats right and count the proxy votes. Since when do Dems throw out legitimate votes because of technicalities? Haven't we fought the Republicans on this very matter time and again? Count every vote. Its the Democratic way...remember?


I thought the for God's sake stay out of the Governor's race was an entertaining comment. So, you complain that Miles was torpedoed by Gates's interference, and now you say Gates has no right to participate in the party anymore? If Waak's goal is be inclusive, Gates should be the first person included, and the second should be Salazar.

Salazar is the highest profile Dem in the state right now, and he seems to be trying to parlay himself into a Nighthorse-like position, which means he can shift swing voters just like Nighthorse did with Allard. But voting yes on those two confirmations doesn't make him a traitor. I don't like that he did, but it doesn't make me regret voting for him over Miles or Coors.

Miles is not Dean - Miles didn't run web ads until after Stan Matsunaka did. That isn't like Dean at all.


Hey Stan,

I firmly agree with your comment that the primary actually helped Ken become a better candidate. I think the reason why it worked as well as it did was because both Ken Salazar and Mike Miles are class acts. In many circumstances, we could have faced a detrimental negative primary (Coors/Schaffer-like) where we end up sending our candidate into the general election wounded both finacially and in character. So while I disagree with Chris Gates attempts to avoid a primary I also understand his rationale for doing so.

Although, I strongly disagree with your comment "Gates should get no credit whatsoever for the Dems' success in 2004". That's absurd. I will leave it at that.

But none-the-less I am glad you're taking an active role in the party. Hopefully, we can build on our accomplishments in the 2006 election.

Mike Miles

From Mike Miles:

Lot's of interesting discussion today -- some of it seems a bit belated, but, still necessary to put on the table. Many people have been saying for a long time that we have significant divisions in the Party. The extent of those divisions were revealed on Saturday and took Chris Gates and many of his supporters by surprise.

From my perspective (former candidate, who had met with Democrats all over the state), the problem with much of the dialogue in the blog today is that some may be misreading the essence of the division. Some want to say that it was due to the "anger of the Miles supporters," or that the division was caused by Gates's treatment of the Miles campaign. The overwhelming majority of the Miles supporters got past Chris Gates a long time ago. I personally avoided making the race for the State Chair a race about past actions or past campaigns. Keeping my profile low was a conscious strategy of the Waak campaign with which I agreed and cooperated.

The divisions in the Party, not unlike those at the national level, have to do with the degree to which the Party leadership will foster the grassroots and the degree to which the Party leadership will speak out on traditional democratic values and issues. These are real concerns and have no easy answers. Indeed, the leadership and political insiders have always understood that grassroots activism, while important for mobilization, may work against a cohesive message.

Chris Gates lost because he refused to acknowledge these core concerns. To say that he lost because of my supporters or the "Be the Change" organization, I believe, oversimplifies the outcome and has the potential of creating even greater divisions.

Pat Waak won because the majority of the Party believed she would be able to build bridges between the various parts of the Party, including with the numerous grassroots and progressive organizations that cropped up during the last election cycle. She won because she has the diplomatic and organizational skills to address the core concerns mentioned above.

I heard a lot of people say before Saturday that no matter who won, we would all get behind the winner to bring the Party together. I am confident that those were not empty words for either Pat's or Chris's supporters. It's time now for us to walk our talk. Mike Miles

Matt Singer

I'm interested in doing a story on this and would like to interview some Coloradans involved at the grassroots level.

My email is simply matt -at- newwest.net Drop me a line with your phone number if you're interested in doing an interview later today.


NOTE: this is long.

With all due respect to Mike, for whom I worked and voted in last year's primary, I have to disagree with him.

This past month, I spoke with Pat regarding what she intended to do as party chair. While I don't think that the party leadership is the chief factor in whether a party is successful or not, it's nevertheless an important part.

What I heard from Pat did nothing to make me confident that she'll ably navigate the shoals of politics here in Colorado.

First, and most importantly, message. This is my opinion, but it's been buttressed by several polls which have come out both before and after the election--most voters have no clue as to what our party stands for. Since the election, I've seen much discussion of Lakoff and how we need to frame issues within the party.

But framing is, at best, merely a means to an end--it's not the end in and of itself. What exactly are we framing? What do we stand for as a party? Most importantly, where do we want to go from here? What are the things that we hope to do if we hold power?

On each and everyone of these questions, Pat was unable to give me a coherent--and concise--answer. Every answer consisted of a laundry list of specific programs. Fine--but what's the underlying philosophy for implementing these programs? For example, the GOP wants to get rid of Social Security because fundamentally, they believe government should have nothing to do with providing a safety net for people. That's where we once were, and where we need to get to again. As I said, she wasn't able to provide me with a clear and coherent fundamental basis for why she wanted to be state chair, and where she would take the party.

Second, and almost as important, money. It's my belief that now many of the big money donors will choose not contribute to the party, but rather contribute to the candidates. This will result in the party's coffers being depleted, and worse, will result in a lack of coordination, which will lead to the wheel being re-invented over and over again. Now, Pat claimed that small-donor contributions will offset much of that loss, but there's a limit to what small-donor contributions can do. I speak as a small-money donor myself, and while I will donate much of money, there's only so much money that I can donate, spread out as it is between organizations, candidates, and causes.

Finally, the old chestnut of "traditional Democratic values". Can someone please explain to me what exactly is meant by that? Half the time, I don't think that it's the values that are in question so much as it is pride in the Democratic Party. Fine--I think anyone who runs as a Democrat should be proud of being a Democrat.

But it also means that if you're proud to be a Democrat, then you should work to be a Democrat. Many people who supported Mike in the primary muttered darkly about not supporting Salazar in the general election--would that be what a proud Democrat does? Many folks who've jumped inside the tent during the Bush Administration were claiming earlier that Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin. Now, I welcome their support and their involvement, but we wouldn't have been in this situation had they been involved earlier.

Again, Pat was unable to define what she meant by traditional Democratic values, despite the fact that she referred to them. I'm a pro-life Democrat--does that square with traditional Democratic values? I'm a supporter of not just the Second Amendment, but the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments--does that square with traditional Democratic values? I believe that America can--and must be--a force for good in the world; does that square with traditional Democratic values?

I bring this up because there have been times when I've been made to feel unwelcome because of my stands on issues. I believe that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. The thought of snuffing a life--or the possibility of life--makes me profoundly uncomfortable, yet my misgivings are dismissed with either dry, legalistic, arguments or the bloody shirt of the coathanger.

I believe that *every* one of the Amendments making up our Bill of Rights is sacrosanct, yet I've been shouted down when I suggested that the 1994 assault weapons ban--which expired last year--was an asinine piece of legislation, because it banned weapons systems on the basis of cosmetic design. I happen to think that if you think that you need a gun to keep you and your loved ones safe, then who am I to keep you from exercising your right to do so? Yet I was mocked by a candidate for the State House--and a member of the State Central Committee--as having penis envy. This, despite being a man and a decorated combat veteran.

Finally, I can't even begin to ennumerate the number of arguments that I've had with fellow Democrats, liberals and progressives concerning the Iraq war. When I went to Iraq, I did so believing that we were there to spread freedom and liberty. I was tragically disabused of that notion. And yet, is it not possible to cheer the spread of democracy in a region which has tragically experienced very little of it? Is it not possible that America, through a judicious combination of both soft and hard power, can further the spread of liberty? There was a time, once, when that is just what we stood for as a party. You only need to read Kennedy's Inaugural Address to see it.

And yet, we're slowly coocooning ourselves in a craven, crabbed isolationism that hints darkly at webs of conspiracies involving corporate conglomerates, that dismisses the threat of terrorism--and its underlying causes--as nonexistent, and claims that America is a force not for good, but for evil.

Now, I'm a proud Democrat--but this isn't the Democratic Party I love. And this isn't liberalism, but a pale, weak shadow which can only oppose, not propose.

Over the past two years, we've made large strides. I would hate to see those strides reversed merely because of a vague desire to flatter the grassroots, at the expense of everything else.

Ter Ducken

It is arrogant and flat-out incorrect to say that the new volunteers to the party in 2004 were responsible for Democrats success. They played a role, sure, but you can't say that it was because of them that Democrats did so well. There weren't thousands of new volunteers. There were hundreds. I volunteered myself, and while I saw new people no matter where I went it was the same people doing the same things. You always ran into the same Mike Miles supporters anywhere you went. There weren't thousands of them. There might not even have been more than a few hundred.

Democrats won primarily because they raised more money and spent it wiser. That's why they won, period. Republicans admit as much. Grassroots support is great if we can improve it, but without the money nothing happens.

I really am seeing the Waak supporters sounding awfully similar to Chris Gates. They're just doing it from a different side of the fence. You're just as arrogant as he was.


Ter Ducken's right, by the way. My experience down south was that the same folks were present at every Miles event, and even as late as July 2004 (one month before the primary), they still hadn't bothered to organize El Paso County, which was Mike's home turf.

You'd think that *two-and-a-half years* after launching a campaign, your backyard would be sewed up tight, but it wasn't. Even there, they lost by 4,885 votes--nearly as many as they won!


The assault weapons ban had some stupid things in it, like the bayonet rule. However, the right to own arms has limits. There are limits of what is cruel and unusual, there are limits to free speech, and there are limits to the press by the use of gag rulings. The assault ban was a shift in the limits of the 2nd amendment. It was one that didn't really make sense, and I think that the registration laws were more effective.

There are always people that are so fixed into the belief that they are right that anything you say to them will fail. It is the Simpsons quote of "Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true!"

And Democrats have issues with laying out a simple agenda and beating it to death. Republicans are able to do this easily, and Democrats could too if they would if all of the stupid little divisions would just be ignored for a little bit.

I have no idea what most politicians stand for, but I at least know what I stand for.


Arkhangel, why are you a democrat?

Les Barstow

To the person who hopes they count the "proxy votes" (long, clarifying post):

They weren't "votes" at all, they were "instructed proxies", which is to say pieces of paper which authorized an eligible person to vote on their behalf in a specific way (in this case, for Chris Gates); no ballot was ever cast for these 7 proxies. Attempts were made to distribute the proxies, and the meeting started about 25 minutes late because of that. However, by the time the vote was taken, 7 proxies still hadn't been distributed.

There are several possible reasons for this.
* No person from an appropriate district was available to take the ballot.
* There were more proxies in a district than people who showed up (a definite possibility for the more remote regions); only one proxy may be carried by one person.
* The only eligible people did not want to vote for Chris Gates, and so declined to carry the proxy (there is some rumor of this, and it is perfectly acceptable under the rules).
* The attempts to deliver the proxy were insufficient.

It is this last possibility that Chris is appealing on, but I would say that the evidence is not in his favor.

The party rules (distributed before the convention) indicate that someone voting by proxy should inform likely proxy carriers that they will be carrying a proxy. Proxies are first to be given to specific people (who are noted on the registration rolls for easy distribution), then to be distributed by county chairs (who in rural areas are often the ones sending in the proxies...), and finally the state party attempts to find a suitable substitute. This was all done from my personal observation (I am a small-county vice-chair, and sat with the other small-county members).

Both the Rules and Credentials committees certified Pat Waak as the winner (after interminable recounts and private parlimentarian rulings...) Personally, I am very disappointed with Chris Gates for not conceeding the loss and healing the party on the spot; I was also disappointed by the inevitable bickering that went on afterwards which forced a new chair of <5 minutes to look repeatedly to others for complicated rulings and explainations.

As a Miles supporter, I will say that I was 100% behind Ken Salazar the moment he won the primary. I didn't have a lot of money to give, but certainly gave my time and efforts to help get him elected. And had Chris won, I am sure we would have gotten behind him as well. I hope those who voted for or supported Chris will do the same now.

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