Hal BidlackHal BidlackMarch 9, 20186min265

How did you spend last Tuesday evening? If you were one of the 23,168 Democrats who showed up at schools, meeting halls, and other spaces around Colorado, you know were you were. You were participating in an unusual (only 13 statues and two US territories use them) process to start off the progression of events that will end up with names on the ballot come next November. If you are a Republican, some of you may have been out Tuesday night as well, but state GOP didn’t hold an official poll, nor do they report turnout results.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 7, 20174min1513

U.S. Reps. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, and Kathleen Rice, a Long Island Democrat, on Wednesday launched a bipartisan House caucus devoted to coming up with what organizers call common-sense congressional reforms. The two lawmakers — both former elected district attorneys — are co-chairs of the Congressional Reformers Caucus, which counts 10 Democrats and nine Republicans on its initial roster, their offices announced. U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, is also a member.


Peter BlakePeter BlakeJune 18, 20166min291

The group that would make it even easier for unaffiliated voters to participate in Colorado’s primary elections is circulating two different initiatives — an unusual move. One, currently called No. 98, would open the current primary — held on the last Tuesday in June — to all unaffiliated voters; the other, No. 140, would restore Colorado’s short-lived presidential primary and open it to unaffiliated voters. Both could pass without creating a conflict, said spokesman Curtis Hubbard of Let Colorado Vote. It is using two different companies to circulate the petitions.


Ramsey ScottRamsey ScottMay 6, 20168min252

An 11th-hour bill to revive a presidential primary in Colorado is advancing at turbo speed through the Senate after similar legislation idled all week in the House. The Senate bill, SB 16-216, sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, was introduced late Friday morning and passed unanimously Friday afternoon out of the Senate State, Military and Veterans Affairs. It then went to the Senate Appropriations Committee before an anticipated second-reading vote on the Senate floor after press time.


Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsMay 4, 20163min221

The Colorado Senate should admit the obvious and acknowledge that they cannot responsibly pass the Primary Participation Bill this session. Fortunately, the Primary Participation Bill, HB1454, has hit a snag in the House, where it is stalled awaiting more amendments and a final vote before being sent to the Senate. Senate observers report growing skepticism over the legal structure, and they notice waning public support. Engaged citizens following the bill’s progress can clearly see the right solution. Why can’t the lawmakers see it?


Marc ZarlengoMarc ZarlengoApril 29, 20166min290

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” as former Barack Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once quipped. This is especially true when no crisis actually exists and entrenched politicians see the opportunity to solidify a permanent political and consultant class, while masquerading as a pro-democracy populist movement. So is the case with the Colorado presidential primary bill HB 16-1454 that was introduced less than three weeks after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declared the Colorado system he effectively chose not to compete in was corrupt and unfair. The bill is now being rammed through the Colorado legislature by Establishment leaders of both major political parties at rapid speed, despite the fact that the next election it will impact is in 2020! Why so fast? Because the iron is hot, and the politicians don’t want the public, particularly the grassroots base of both parties, to see what the bill actually contains.


Lynn BartelsLynn BartelsApril 28, 20168min246

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlined the reasons he backs a return to the presidential primary during a news conference at the state Capitol Thursday. Williams said he still supports the caucus system because of the personal contact candidates have with voters. That chemistry isn’t the same, he said, with presidential candidates. “To the best of my knowledge, neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz nor Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders personally knocked on doors in Colorado to say, ‘Let me talk to you about why I think I should be president,'” Williams said of the Republican and Democratic frontrunners.


Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsApril 27, 20163min203


Under House Bill 1454, the “Primary Participation Act,” why would anyone permanently affiliate with a party? The only reason would be that he or she had plans to run for public office and wanted a mainstream-media-defined “D” or “R” next to their name.

I’ve barely had time to read the introduced bill. It replaces the presidential part of our caucus with a presidential-only extra primary election. Yet it has already passed in a House committee without amendment and despite many objections by witnesses. It’s on the familiar fast track that makes wide public involvement impossible.

The bill contains discrepancies with Title 1, which governs elections in Colorado — too many to enumerate here. It provides for a confusing extra election with unexplained differences.

More importantly, its “temporary affiliation” feature is clearly a big mistake. Voters will have an obvious incentive to register as Unaffiliated. Without the draw of a presidential nomination process that requires affiliation, the best function of political parties will be damaged beyond remedy. That valuable function is consensus-building at precinct caucuses and at followup county meetings. These voter-connecting events give local meaning to the letters “D” and “R.”

Affiliation and caucus will be attractive only to those who seek public office. They and a very few friends will be the only participants in the caucus remnant.

There is a viable argument that parties have harmed the caucuses through mismanagement. For example, they often combine precincts into caucus “super-sites,” causing overload. Parties may not have not been the best political custodians of caucuses. So perhaps they don’t deserve such a significant role in presidential nomination. That is an argument for HB 1454. However, most sensible arguments would defeat the bill.

Don’t rush another big electoral change before the potential effects on citizens’ involvement are fully explored.

Simply vote “no” on the bill.

Harvie Branscomb


The Statesman welcomes letters to the editor on topics related to politics and government in Colorado. Letters must be signed, should be kept under 600 words and should include the writer’s hometown, phone number and email address, if available. Please send letters to Letters may be edited lightly for length, style and clarity.



Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsFebruary 8, 20162min224

Gov. John Hickenlooper:

Shouldn’t Colorado have its day to be one of the top three states to select the presidential nominee for each party? What if instead of caucusing in Iowa, the presidential candidates were currently courting voters in Denver, and having a discourse on the issues that affect your state? We are proposing a rotation in the order of the states’ primary election dates that would achieve just that.

Enclosed is a copy of an op-ed recently published in the San Antonio Express-News, which advocates for a more fair system that will allow the rest of the states to engage in a meaningful discussion with presidential candidates before the primary is all but decided.

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. We look forward to continuing a meaningful national discussion and working with party leaders to review the process by which our parties select presidential candidates.

State Rep. Lyle Larson

San Antonio, Texas

[Ed. Note: Larson also sent versions of the above letter to the chairs of Colorado’s Republican and Democratic parties, along with a pair of sunglasses and a note reading, “Rotate the presidential primaries, because Colorado should have its day in the sun!”]