Romanoff gains in Democrats’ race for Senate

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., captured 56 percent of the votes at the Mesa County Democratic Party Assembly on Saturday, a showing that left him ahead of challenger Andrew Romanoff but by a lesser margin than Bennet enjoyed after last month’s caucuses.

Bennet’s nearly 3-to-1 caucus margin narrowed to a 56 percent to 44 percent advantage after Democrats heard from both candidates during their assembly in the Central High School auditorium.

Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado House, had taken the statewide caucus preferences, 51 percent to 42 percent.

Both camps claimed victory, with Bennet spokesman Trevor Kincaid saying the campaign was thrilled to do well and will “focus on the entire state.”

Romanoff spokesman Dean Toda said Romanoff was grateful for the increased support, adding, “The trend is clear: Romanoff has improved his standing in 18 of the 21 Colorado counties reporting results from their Democratic assemblies.”

Bennet, appointed last year to replace Ken Salazar, who was appointed secretary of the Interior Department, was greeted with cheers and standing applause when he declared “comprehensive health care reform is now the law of the land,” an achievement he attributed to the hard work of delegates.

Efforts to hold down hospital readmissions contained in the legislation are patterned after the efforts that were pioneered in Grand Junction, Bennet said.

Bennet, supported by Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, a Grand Junction native, said he expects Congress to pass financial reforms with less bruising than experienced with the health care legislation passed on party-line votes.

Romanoff pitched himself as an outsider who will take on a “Congress corrupted by corporate cash.”

It’s not enough to blame Republicans because, “We’re in charge now,” Romanoff told the Democrats as he vowed to take no political-action-committee money.

If he wins, “I’ll owe my seat to you,” not big-money contributors, he said.

Delegate Russ Schuckman said he is supporting Romanoff because he had the opportunity to discuss issues with the candidate in a phone call that Romanoff answered, instead of the recorded message Schuckman expected to get.

For “15 minutes on my patio,” Schuckman said, he talked with Romanoff about spending and the deficit and learned Romanoff shared concerns “about how we’re printing money, and the dollar is losing value.”

Delegate Bennett Boeschenstein said he was sticking with Bennet, but it was a difficult decision.

Bennet, though, had marked up “an outstanding record in the Senate,” proving his mettle for the job, Boeschenstein said.


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