Colorado State Assemblies Bring Drama and Excitement

On April 13, first-year Elena Martinez-Vivot pulled up to a cozy house in a Denver suburb. With six other Colorado College students, she gathered around a table, whispering. Gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy was sleeping in a bedroom above them and waking her was out of the question. The state assembly, Kennedy’s chance to get on the primary ballot, was the next day.

Photo courtesy of Dave Russell

Kennedy had nothing to worry about. She obtained twice as many votes as the next candidate, with about 63 percent of the vote.

The seven Colorado College students who attended the event as delegates, selected at the county assembly, spent most of the event in the box with Kennedy and her staff. Just before the final vote came out, the buzzing room went quiet. Everyone’s attention was on the stage. When the numbers were read out, Martinez-Vivot let out a deep breath. “Did I hear that right? Over 60 percent,” she said. There was exuberance in the resounding “yes” that came back across the room. With the majority of the vote, Kennedy will receive the coveted top line on the ballot this November.

Democrats observed more than the race for Governor, though. Jenna Griswold, who is running for secretary of state, won 90 percent of the vote. She knocked one candidate off the primary ballot and seems well-positioned to enter the open race. Griswold was endorsed by all Democratic gubernatorial candidates, EMILY’s list, and a variety of unions across the state. She has also fundraised much more than her Republican competitor thus far.

The attorney general race was a bit unexpected, with early front-runner Joe Salazar earning 37 percent of the vote to out-of-stater Phil Weiser’s 53 percent. Weiser motivated the crowd with a speech on civic responsibility, speaking with emotion early on about his grandmother’s journey from Europe to the U.S. during the Holocaust. However, both candidates made the ballot and Amy Padden, who won 11 percent of the vote, will make it to the ballot throug signatures regardless; she only needed 10 percent to do so.

In Boulder, Colo. there were more surprises. Long-shot candidate Greg Lopez came out of nowhere to win 32 percent of the vote. Lopez knocked out Cynthia Coffman, the current attorney general, who only won 6 percent of the vote. His speech was the first time many had ever seen him, but his momentum seems to be on the rise.

Lopez is a staunch, President Donald Trump-supporting Republican, and he spent much of his speech appealing to the values of Trump’s supporters. He derided illegal immigration and praised the president’s strong leadership style. Much of his rhetoric echoed President Trump’s.  “I’m tired of losing,” he said. “Haven’t you had enough of losing? I’m ready to start winning!” He claimed that he could appeal to Latinx voters across the state through his Latinx background and Spanish-speaking skills.

According to reporters at the Denver Post, the Republican State Assembly was full of “ruthless attacks,” with pamphlets circulated through the event undermining the credibility of many candidates.

Coffman may have made the ballot if not for the late entry of Walker Stapleton. Stapleton, who was state treasurer for two terms and the front-runner in the Republican governor’s race, risked not making the ballot when it was revealed many of his signatures were illegally gathered. He emerged from the assembly with 43 percent of the vote. Though this is the end of the road for a few, it is just the beginning for most. Both party primary elections will be on June 26, and the general election will be on November 6.

Charlotte Schwebel

Charlotte Schwebel

Charlotte is a first-year from New York City. After getting a glimpse of the great events at Colorado College her first semester, she decided the best way to experience them was to write about them. Charlotte is fascinated by current events from campus to Congo. Her go-to's for news are the New York Times, Al Jazeera, and the Washington Post.

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