Romanoff will have top ballot billing

BROOMFIELD — Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff came out on top Saturday at the Democratic Party Assembly, winning far more delegates than sitting U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Romanoff pulled out 60.4 percent of the delegates’ votes to Bennet’s 39.6 percent, meaning he will get top line on the Aug. 10 primary ballot.

“Winning this thing by 20 points was a big boost to our team,” Romanoff said after the assembly. “It exceeded our expectations and continued the momentum, or Romentum, that we got going since the caucuses.

“It was very gratifying. In spite of the millions of dollars in television ads that were pouring in against us, folks made a pretty clear choice.”

Bennet said his only goal was to earn the minimum 30 percent vote of the delegates to make the ballot without having to petition on, something his campaign still plans to do.

Those petitions are due May 27, but it won’t change where Bennet’s name will appear on the ballot.

Under party rules, candidates are allowed to do both. Bennet said petitioning on allowed him to reach out to regular Democratic voters in addition to assembly delegates.

“We’ve got roughly 20,000 signatures through the petition process, and it’s allowed us to have a real opportunity to talk to thousands of people,” Bennet said. “So I think we’ll just keep doing it.”

Bennet said he wasn’t surprised that some delegates may have seen him as more of the party insider, even though Romanoff has been a politician far longer.

Romanoff served eight years in the Colorado House, while Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Bill Ritter only last year.

Party chairwoman Pat Waak said it appeared many of the delegates who hadn’t committed to either candidate ended up throwing their lots to Romanoff.

She said a few delegates who had promised to back one candidate or the other asked if they were allowed to switch their votes, but said she didn’t know if they actually had.

Romanoff is hoping to ride a wave of anti-incumbency that has been prevalent nationwide, particularly after last week’s primary elections in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Kentucky saw anti-establishment candidates from both sides of the aisle win their party’s backing.

His message clearly hit home among the party loyalists, but it remains to be seen if he can carry that through the August primary.

“I talked to a doctor and his wife in Grand Junction who said it seems like nobody in Washington is looking out for us, and then I literally had the same conversation the same day from a barber out here in Denver almost word-for-word,” Romanoff said.

“This is not just a talking point or some kind of poll- driven message, it’s actually what people are feeling.”

Though Bennet has served as Colorado’s junior senator since January 2009, he’s been trying to paint himself as not a career politician.

That’s why Bennet got the Senate to approve a bill he introduced to bar raises for members of Congress while the economy is bad, and prohibit them from ever working as lobbyists, he said.

“I didn’t set out to make a career in politics,” Bennet said in his convention speech.

“But like you, I’m concerned about Colorado’s future, and I worry that the same old politicians are using the same old approaches to what are very new problems.”


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