Democratic candidates to square off today

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff will face off this morning as Mesa County Democrats assemble to decide on delegates to the state convention.

Romanoff, who attended a fundraiser Friday night in Palisade, said he is counting on displeasure with Washington, D.C., to strike a chord with delegates in western Colorado and across the state.

It won’t hurt, Romanoff added, that early polling shows him ahead of any of the Republicans running for the post Bennet now holds.

Bennet’s campaign, meanwhile, said he not only will woo delegates at assemblies, but he will ask supporters to sign petitions and “commitment cards” that the campaign will mail back to them near the August primary election to remind them they supported Bennet.

Bennet is to arrive mid-morning to address delegates at Central High School.

Delegates will gather at 8 a.m. to check in, and the assembly is to begin at 9.

He’ll separate himself immediately from Bennet by attacking Congress, Romanoff said.

“I tell everyone,” he said, “if you like the way Washington works, vote for somebody else.”

Gov. Bill Ritter appointed Bennet to the Senate when Ken Salazar resigned to become secretary of the Interior Department in the Obama administration. In doing so, Ritter, passed over Romanoff.

Romanoff said he will stress his ability to work in the Legislature with both sides and noted that during his speakership, he made sure Mesa County had a seat at the budget table.

Democrats never should have jettisoned the public option in the just-passed health care legislation, and they wasted an opportunity to include it in the reconciliation package, Romanoff said.

He’ll introduce a public option for health insurance if he’s elected, adding it should be subject to an up-or-down vote in the Senate without having to survive a filibuster.


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