In Dem Senate primary, Andrew Romanoff’s the one. And voting is underway.

| Jun 7, 2020

Thousands of energized candidates determined to change an America defaulting on its promises have stepped forward over the past couple of years.

In the Democratic primaries, they often face apathy and voters running scared, saying, in effect, we can’t afford to think big, we must support the guy whose name has been spread far and wide (because his name has been spread far and wide).

Afterwards, many of those same voters grumble about the state of politics.

Andrew Romanoff (Source: Campaign website)

A just-published story in Politico bore the headline: “Progressives Steamrolled Across the Senate Map: Left-wing candidates have been shut out in Democratic Senate primaries thus far in 2020.” Will this trend continue in the Colorado primary race for the US Senate between Andrew Romanoff and John Hickenlooper? Ballots will be in the mail this week, and voters will be called upon to make an important decision by June 30. In that same article, Romanoff called the primary “one of the last beachheads for progressives in the country.”

The weight of the Democratic Party on the primary scales tilts so heavily towards favored candidates – almost inevitably neoliberals – to look farcical. Imagine scales with an overfed donkey on one side and an indefatigable songbird on the other.

Romanoff has had to contend with the machinations of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on behalf of Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper’s clout and his party bigwig connections carried him to a huge fundraising advantage in first-quarter 2020, when Hickenlooper took in $4.1 million versus Romanoff’s less than $500,000. Another dimension is a huge difference in their personal wealth. Hickenlooper’s personal finance report put his net worth at somewhere between $9 million and $27 million, while Romanoff’s stated net worth was between $141,000 and $540,000. Thus Hickenlooper could, if needed, chuck in his own money à la our governor Jared Polis, who poured in a reported $23 million on his way to his current job.

Party powerbrokers backing Hick

In typical fashion, the fundraising successes of these powerbrokers are now being presented as a reason to prefer Hickenlooper. The advantages conferred on Party favorites go beyond the obvious.

Romanoff came out of the Democratic caucuses with 55% of the vote to Hickenlooper’s 30%. Thus I was quite disturbed by an article in FiveThirtyEight describing the results of polls between Hickenlooper and Cory Gardner. In it, the reporter never mentions that another candidate was still vying for the Democratic spot. (Earlier polls had shown a generic candidate with a large lead over the unpopular Cory Gardner.)

Gardner, who has antagonized a large part of the Colorado electorate, is likely to lose in November. This means that Colorado Democrats and independents should choose a candidate who will represent their hopes and aspirations.

Reasons to vote for Romanoff abound. He supports healthcare for all, a ban on fracking, the Green New Deal, police reform and a fair immigration system. His life history includes work at the anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Center. He knows how to answer questions about Black Lives Matter and sounds like he genuinely cares. Compare this to Hickenlooper, who responded at an online candidate forum with the Republican talking point, “Black Lives Matter means that every life matters.”

Twice Colorado House Speaker

Lest you worry that Romanoff is insufficiently experienced in politics, I’ll point out that he was speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives for two terms. While Romanoff is an enthusiastic former legislator, Hickenlooper told Politico back in February of 2019: “I’m not cut out to be a senator. Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups, which is important, right? But I’m not sure that’s my – I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

If you haven’t done so yet, take a look at Hickenlooper’s campaign website. At first glance, it appears that Hickenlooper is a brewpub owner just entering politics. Folksy barely begins to describe the photos and accompanying text, starting in his boyhood. Perhaps Hickenlooper is not so proud of his record as governor.

The images are in stark contrast to his most recent term, which included hitching rides on so many private jets that, during his questioning by the Independent Ethics Commission on Friday, June 5, he claimed not to remember the number of such free, cushy flights over a one-year period. The Commission found him in violation of Colorado’s constitutional gift ban on two counts.

Hick sued Longmont over fracking ban

I also wouldn’t be surprised if he wants us to forget that his administration sued the City of Longmont over its fracking moratorium, an action that helped bring a brown cloud of pollution to the Front Range. While Romanoff has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge for his campaign, Hickenlooper has not. The Sunrise Movement has endorsed Romanoff, having become convinced he will take action against the climate catastrophe.

Activist friends tell me Romanoff’s track record on oil and gas and climate change is problematic – and that he may not come through on progressive issues. Some of his rivals who did not make it onto the ballot are more progressive than he. Diana Bray is a courageous frontline anti-fracker. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding is an African-American professor of women’s and ethnic studies at CU Colorado Springs whose experience and passion seem made for this moment of opposition to endemic racism. If either runs for office again, I hope they will receive widespread support. Bray has come out with a wholehearted endorsement of Romanoff.

I too endorse Romanoff unequivocally. I am holding on to the hope that if he wins the primaries and, in November, defeats Gardner to become senator for Colorado, he will remember who sent him to DC. Hint: not Chuck Schumer.

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Leora Frankel is a frequent contributor to Boulder Reporter. Her past articles can be seen here.

This article was edited slightly on June 8 to add details on fundraising and candidates’ personal wealth.


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