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Morgan Carroll speaks Saturday, March 11 ahead of being elected chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party. Photo by Peter Marcus.
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Morgan Carroll elected chair of Colorado Democrats as party rebuilds

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Former state Sen. Morgan Carroll of Aurora was elected Saturday to be the next leader of Colorado Democrats.

Surrounded by dozens of supporters on a stage in a downtown Denver hotel conference room, Carroll appeared to bridge progressive and establishment ends of the party.

She spoke on a gloomy Saturday morning as a light rain fell outside, offering hope that the party would rise above the storm of the last election.

“The Democratic Party should be on the front line of the resistance,” Carroll told a cheering audience. “We must adapt, or face extinction.”

Carroll takes over for Rick Palacio, who chose not to seek a fourth term after the November election. Palacio ran unsuccessfully for vice-chairman of the national party.

Carroll defeated Clear Creek County Commissioner Tim Mauck, who had counted on rural Democrats.

Carroll garnered 401 votes to Mauck’s 38.

“Activism and resistance are more than important, they’re essential, but we can’t be the party of resistance, we need to be the party that governs,” Mauck said, with a smaller group of supporters standing by his side on stage.

Carroll earned support from so-called “Dog House Dems,” including Reps. Jovan Melton of Aurora and Joe Salazar of Thornton, who pride themselves on shaking up the establishment. She also had backing from both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters.

The former senator took over for the state party immediately after being elected on Saturday. She takes the helm at a critical time for Democrats, who must rebuild following a dismal election that saw Clinton lose to Donald Trump.

Carroll herself experienced a disappointing election last fall, when she lost in Congressional District 6 to incumbent Republican Mike Coffman by eight points. Democrats had hoped for the race to be tighter.

Democrats saw a mixed bag on election night in Colorado, when Clinton won the state and Democrats picked up three seats in the House. But the party was unable to flip the Senate, and congressional district races were not as competitive as the party would have liked.

“The unaffiliateds have no infrastructure; third parties do not have the numbers,” Carroll said. “In my view, the future of the free world and our constitutional democracy, our civil rights and liberties, and our planet, are depending on us.”

Democrats were able to avoid fireworks in the two-person race for state chair. Concerns grew after the November election that the party would face a bitter and divisive race for chair, but members largely came together on Saturday.

In saying his goodbyes to members, Palacio said that over the past six years under his watch the party built “something great.”

“Some of it is not always flowers. Some of it is politics,” Palacio said. “I would ask that this body in the future provide to our next chair … just a tremendous amount of patience and understanding.

“We are all on the same team as Democrats … we are all here to try to move our state and our nation forward and make this a better place for all of us.”

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