Mesa County Democrats pick Bennet, split with state

Democratic Precinct Chairwoman Mary Linda Jost counts votes for the Colorado Senate race between U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and state Sen. Andrew Romanoff at Redlands Middle School on Tuesday.

Mesa County Democrats went for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in Tuesday’s caucuses, but most other Democrats in the state decided his opponent, Andrew Romanoff, was the better choice.

The former speaker of the Colorado House took nearly 51 percent of the vote around the state compared to Bennet’s 42 percent.

“We’ve won from Alamosa to Yuma, so things are looking pretty good, but this is just one step in a long journey,” Romanoff told The Daily Sentinel. “Main Street and Wall Street had a chance to weigh in tonight, and Main Street won. Until (Tuesday) the only people we’ve been hearing from are the folks on Wall Street, and now we’re starting to hear from the people of Colorado.”

Romanoff trailed Bennet in Mesa County caucusing, losing to him by a more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Despite his poor showing in the county, Romanoff, who had hoped to be appointed to the Senate when former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar left it to run the U.S. Department of the Interior, a post Gov. Bill Ritter gave to Bennet, said the statewide results will help to energize his campaign.

He said Bennet’s impressive war chest, which has grown to nearly $5 million, thanks in part to an early endorsement from President Barack Obama, clearly didn’t help. Romanoff has collected about $630,000 in contributions, but because of Tuesday’s results hoped to see that change.

In Mesa County, several caucus attendees said that while both candidates are respectable contenders, they thought Bennet should be given more time to do his work.

Leo Dutilly, precinct 7 captain, said the anti-incumbent movement that seemed to be prevalent elsewhere in the nation didn’t apply here.

“Everyone here knows who (Bennet) is,” Dutilly said at Redlands Middle School, which hosted caucuses for numerous precincts for both parties.

“Besides, it looks a little flip-floppy to pick a new candidate,” said his wife, Jae.

Other Democrats said they wished they didn’t have to choose between the two, saying they would like to see both men in higher office.

“We have two really wonderful people,” Grand Junction resident Anita Pisciotte told others at the caucuses. “Why can’t we spread them out?”


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