By Charlotte Schwebel
Elections aren’t over yet! Colorado has maintained the caucusing process where people gather in-person to determine their nominee in the Senate race. Colorado is predicted to have the most competitive Senate race in the country this year. The preliminary caucuses will be on Saturday, March 7. You must be registered with the specific party to caucus.
Democrats: This precinct will meet at 2 pm at Palmer High School, which is just a few blocks away. Colorado College Dems will meet at Worner at 1:30 to walk over as a group.
Republicans: Though Republicans will not be voting on the senate seat Saturday. A caucus will be held for other important elections. Republican caucusers will convene at 10:00 A.M. Please go to the Colorado GOP website (caucus.cologop.org) and enter your address to find your voting location. You will be asked to select your name from a list of voters in your area and will then be contacted by the party.
Caucusing is an exciting process that usually lasts one to two hours. Its in-person nature allows voters to sway one way or another. After some time for neighbors to speak to each other about the candidates, they move to different sides of the room and are counted. After a calculation is made, delegates are assigned, and people volunteer to go to the state convention on April 18. Candidates give speeches, and after another vote, those with a critical mass can have their names added to the ballot.
The front-runner in the Democratic Senate primary, John Hickenlooper, collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot and will not be a part of the caucus process. The Republican incumbent, Cory Gardner, will be on the ballot as well.
Republicans on the ballot will be:
Cory Gardner (incumbent)
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner is in the most vulnerable Senate seat in the country, but he plans on keeping it. A moderate who was endorsed by the Denver Post when elected in 2015, Gardner has been drawn into the Trump orbit in recent years. Gardner is one of the most charismatic politicians in Colorado, making him difficult to oppose. During his time in the Senate, he has focused on expanding rural broadband, conservation of public lands, scientific research grant programs, veterans’ healthcare access, telecommunications job training, border security funds, and Colorado transportation funding. Critics say he is hiding from voters by not having town halls or appearing at primary debates, and believe he helped obstruct justice in the impeachment trials by opposing subpoenaing witnesses.
Democrats on the ballot will be:
Former Governor John Hickenlooper joined the race after failing to gain traction as a candidate early on in the Presidential primary. He was recruited by D.C. members of the Democratic establishment, who quickly endorsed him against the will of the Colorado Democratic Party — causing several candidates to drop out. Regardless, Hickenlooper has quickly become a frontrunner on a campaign platform of “Fighting for Colorado.” His website does not have an issues page. What his campaign lacks in substance it makes up for in positive name recognition around the state from his time as a popular governor. Critics point to his mixed record on climate action and support of fracking and his notable absence at debates among other Senate candidates around the state.
Democrats in the caucus will be:
Former Speaker of the House in Colorado Andrew Romanoff is a Colorado progressive with a proven track record of legislative success. He has framed his campaign as the foil to that of former Gov. Hickenlooper, who is running as a moderate Democrat. He has been a strong advocate for the Green New Deal throughout his campaign and was endorsed by the Sunrise Movement. Critics believe advertisements meant to show the most disastrous possibilities of climate change sensationalize beyond what scientists are reporting and believe Romanoff has a tendency to talk around policy specifics in debates.
Lorena Garcia is a queer Latina woman with decades of non-profit and organizing experience who is ready to take on systemic problems from the inside. She was driven to run for office on the day Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Her platforms revolve around finding people-centered solutions to problems like climate change, healthcare, housing, and wage stagnation. She is a candidate who, if elected, would not take long to integrate into the growing group of young progressive women of color elected in 2018. Critics see her lack of experience as a liability and worry her campaign will split the progressive vote.
Stephany Rose Spaulding
Professor of Women’s and Ethnic studies, Pastor, and politician Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, who ran for Doug Lambourn’s House Seat in 2018, is back to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner. Spaulding was first inspired to run for public office at the 2017 Women’s March. A rousing speaker who often sings during her speeches and can move the crowd to tears during debates, Spaulding has put the fight to end gun violence at the forefront of her campaign, though she speaks passionately across the full range of progressive issues. Critics point to her lack of momentum in this race and take this as a sign she should start with a smaller race.
Diana Bray is an environmentalist, clinical psychologist, and mother who realized climate change was a serious problem on a trip to Australia and has been fighting against fracking and coal plants in the U.S. ever since. Bray led the ballot initiative to ban fracking in Colorado, and she is respected in environmentalist circles. Her campaign aims to address every issue through the climate crisis, looking at climate change as a public health crisis, a national security crisis, an infrastructure crisis, and an education crisis. Critics are turned off by her single-minded approach to complex issues and worry that she is not a powerful speaker or debater.
Professor of neuroscience and research methodology Trish Zornio saw that there were no scientists on the U.S. Senate science committee and decided to run for office to change that. Many of our nation’s biggest challenges require expertise in science and technology, and Zornio is well equipped for the job, having served as Lead Coordinator for a Colorado STEM & Policy Research initiative, advisor for the 500 Women Scientists Youth Pod in Boulder County, and Lead Coordinator for 314 Action Colorado Chapter. She has an in-depth climate plan that details concrete departmental changes that can be made regardless of what party takes the senate and wants to push for evidence-based policy across the board. Critics believe her policies lack intersectionality.
Former Professor of U.S. National Security David Goldfischer is running for senate to end President Trump’s normalization of the sabotage of defense and free and fair elections. In addition to teaching, he led a think tank and graduate program in the Middle East to study the roots of terrorism and built a small business that provided disaster training in Colorado. Goldfischer believes we need to unite moderates, progressives, and conservatives. Critics worry that he lacks name recognition.
Former Gubernatorial Primary Candidate and media tech entrepreneur Erik Underwood is running for Senate to be the first person of color elected to this position in Colorado (Underwood is Black, and so is Spaulding. Garcia is Latina.) Underwood has pledged to fight for environmental justice, blockchain and cryptocurrency, mental health, hemp incentives, free college education, and reparations for immigrants who were mistreated at the border during the Trump administration. Critics question the depth of his plans and his momentum in the race.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren
Michelle Ferrigno Warren, advocacy and strategic engagement director for the nonprofit Christian Community Development Association and consultant for the advocacy group National Immigration Forum, prioritizes “people over politics” in a campaign that draws on her experience working in non-profit, law, and neighborhood organizing. In addition to her CCDA work, Warren started community development 501c Open Door Ministries to address poverty, addiction, and homelessness through social programs. She is also an immigration lawyer, which has driven her campaign. Critics find that she is prone to blunders in debate and see her lack of experience as a liability.