Colorado Democrats to elevate top three finalists to vice chair position after unresolved election - Colorado Politics
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Colorado Democrats to elevate top three finalists to vice chair position after unresolved election

Author: Ernest Luning - March 28, 2017 - Updated: March 29, 2017

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Senate Miinority Leder Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, at microphone, nominates former Democratic National Committeeman Mannie Rodriguez, who stands to her right, as 2nd vice chair of the Colorado Democratic Party at the state central committee's reorganization meeting on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center, as state Reps. Donald Valdez, D-Alamosa, State Board of Education member Val Flores and state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, look on. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Senate Miinority Leder Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, at microphone, nominates former Democratic National Committeeman Mannie Rodriguez, who stands to her right, as 2nd vice chair of the Colorado Democratic Party at the state central committee’s reorganization meeting on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center, as state Reps. Donald Valdez, D-Alamosa, State Board of Education member Val Flores and state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, look on. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Colorado Democrats plan to name all three finalists to the party’s vice chair position left unfilled earlier this month when none of the candidates surpassed a majority of the vote after multiple rounds of balloting, The Colorado Statesman has learned.

As things stand, former Arapahoe County Democratic Party Chair Pat Shaver will become 2nd vice chair and the two remaining candidates — former Democratic National Committeeman Mannie Rodriguez and former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer Miguel Ceballos — will be deputy 2nd vice chairs, a party spokeswoman said.

It will take a vote of the state central committee approving a couple of rules changes to establish the multiple officers, and that should happen sometime in April, said Anne Wilseck, the party’s executive director.

The election for 2nd vice chair was one of two — the other was for 1st vice chair — left unresolved at the Democrats’ state reorganization meeting on March 11 in Denver, after  one race appeared to result in a tie and the other failed to produce a winner after three rounds of voting.

The state party declared David Sabados, a Denver-based political consultant and president of the Colorado Young Democrats, the winner in the 1st vice chair race by a vote of 216-215 two days later after one ballot cast in the election was ruled ineligible. Sabados edged Larimer County organizer and former union leader Gil Barela for the office, which includes a seat on the Democratic National Committee.

But the contest for 2nd vice chair has remained in limbo for nearly two weeks as party officials and the candidates discussed ways to bring it to a finish. (Former Otero County Democratic Party Chair Terrance Hestand was also among the candidates for the office, which is primarily responsible for outreach to various Democratic Party constituencies, but dropped out after the first two inconclusive rounds of voting.)

While Shaver led through the afternoon in first one vote, then the next, and then the next, her vote total didn’t reach 50-percent-plus-one, and the state party doesn’t require any candidates to withdraw for subsequent rounds of balloting — although more than a few have suggested that might be a sensible rules change.

Shaver, Rodriguez and Ceballos came to an agreement that all three should be seated, party officials said.

“I’m not too concerned with titles,” Rodriguez told The Statesman, adding that the candidates believe a more inclusive result makes the most sense, in part because that approach ensure more diversity among the party’s statewide officers.

“Even though we can’t agree to one officer, this might be something better for the state, this might give us more bodies,” he said.

Noting that he was a vice chair of the state party a decade ago — when Democrats took over the General Assembly for the first time in decades and won a majority of the state’s congressional seats and executive offices — Rodriguez said he was glad to have a chance to bring his experience to the table.

The election went smoothly for the other three statewide Democratic offices determined at the biennial meeting: Former Senate President and congressional candidate Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat, won the chair position in a landslide, party secretary Martelle Daniels won a second term unopposed, by acclamation, and Rita Simas won over Kathleen Ricker for treasurer in a two-candidate race.

State Republicans pick officers for two-year terms at the GOP’s reorganization on Saturday at Englewood High School. Former congressional candidate George Athanasopoulos and former El Paso County Republican Party chair Jeff Hays are vying for state chair, and Colorado Springs organizer Sherrie Gibson is facing Mesa County activist Kevin McCarney for vice chair, while former Moffatt County GOP chair Brandi Meek is running unopposed for a second term as secretary.

— ernest@coloradostatesman.com

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


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