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Sanders wins Colorado’s presidential primary, AP projects; Bloomberg leads in Pitkin County

Bernie Sanders rolled to a demonstrative victory in Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary, a Super Tuesday showing that underscored the state’s shift to the left among young voters.

In its first presidential primary in 20 years, Colorado saw a last-minute surge of votes among Democrats and independents, who for the first time cast ballots without having to affiliate with either major party.

More than 1.5 million of Colorado’s 3.4 million voters had cast ballots, the secretary of state’s office said. Unaffiliated voters — the largest voting bloc — made up nearly a third of that total. Most voted in the Democratic primary.

With about two-thirds of Democratic primary ballots counted in Pitkin County, Michael Bloomberg led all candidates by more than 200 votes early Tuesday night.

That’s according to Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, who said that as of about 7:15 p.m. her office had counted 3,359 ballots out of more than 5,000 cast in the county. There are 12,853 active registered voters in the county.

Those results showed Bloomberg with 1,178, followed by Sanders with 963 and Joe Biden with 770. Elizabeth Warren rounded out the top four with 397 votes, Vos Caudill said.

President Donald Trump resoundingly won the state’s Republican primary.

The outcome for Democrats highlighted a schism between growing numbers of young, college-educated voters and the traditional, more moderate party establishment.

Sanders easily defeated Hillary Clinton in Colorado’s 2016 Democratic caucuses, and the Vermont senator has maintained an enthusiastic base in Colorado ever since.

Democrat Noreen Petkovich, a 40-year-old nurse, voted for Sanders Tuesday. She was drawn to his calls for healthcare coverage for all and public investment in education. But what really counted is Sanders’ resonance among young voters, Petkovich said.

“Things need to change and youth is part of that,” she said.

The primary replaced a non-binding caucus system in Colorado as officials tried to get more voters involved in the national presidential race. But the volume of votes cast meant the Democratic party won’t start allocating its 67 delegates until Wednesday.

Colorado held presidential primaries from 1992 to 2000, then dropped the voting to save money. In 2016, voters approved reinstating primaries after complaining about the caucus system that involved thousands of precinct meetings to choose presidential candidates.

Four years ago, many Democratic voters couldn’t get into their caucuses, which were filled to capacity. Republicans were angry that their precinct caucuses didn’t include an unofficial vote for president.

Sanders has campaigned for Jared Polis, Colorado’s first-term governor, and freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder.

Democrats, whose ranks have been trending younger and to the left, won the Colorado Statehouse, the governorship and all statewide offices in 2018. Health care and the environment topped voters’ concerns and will resonate in this year’s elections.

“Bernie’s just the only one of them that felt honest. Environmentalism is a big one for me, and his policies align with what I want to see the most,” said Jake Wall, a 23-year-old machine shop purchaser who voted Tuesday for the Vermont senator.

Some observers say Colorado’s shift left in recent elections could ease a bit if Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, emerges as the Democratic nominee.

The ranks of Republican and Democratic voters are nearly equal in the state that boasts a multibillion-dollar fossil fuels industry as well as a vibrant environmental movement.

The 2018 midterm election “was a referendum on Trump, practically a vote against every Republican on the ballot,” said Dick Wadhams, a veteran Republican strategist and former party chairman. “But this year is different. Trump is on the ballot. If Sanders also is on the ballot, that puts Colorado in play.”

The state’s caucus system is still used for down-ballot races, including a re-election bid by Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Candidates for Congress and state offices can seek votes at precinct caucuses on Saturday and at subsequent party assemblies, or petition their way onto primary ballots in June.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Here’s what happens to the votes for candidates who drop out

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The abrupt departures of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar from the Democratic presidential race on the eve of Super Tuesday primaries could be frustrating for the millions of people who have already voted in those 14 states and might have cast ballots for them.

As voters stream to precincts across the country Tuesday, here’s a look at what happens to ballots already submitted for the candidates no longer in the race.

THE PUSH TO GET OUT EARLY

Early voting began in January in many of the Super Tuesday states. As candidates sprinted through Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, those with the resources also expanded into the delegate-rich California, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia, leading early-voting events.

It’s not known how many of those early votes may have gone to Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Tom Steyer, all of whom have announced departures from the race in the days following Saturday’s South Carolina primary, and whose names will still be on state ballots. Klobuchar and Buttigieg endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday.

FROZEN IN TIME

In large part, once a vote is cast, it is final, according to state election officials. Residents in Michigan — which votes Mar. 10 — do get another shot, with the option to “spoil” their ballot and make a second choice if their candidate drops out. Some states allow voters to pull back ballots that haven’t yet been tallied, although that has to be handled case-by-case, in person, on Election Day.

In California, with more than 400 delegates are at stake, nearly 1.6 million Democrats had returned mail-in ballots as of Monday afternoon, according to a ballot tracker maintained by Political Data Inc. If an early ballot there was marked for a candidate no longer in the race, a voter can take in their ballot for a new one, and make a second choice. But once the ballot is submitted, that’s it.

In Yolo County, with some 117,000 registered voters — about 87,000 of whom requested to vote by mail — just about 21,000 ballots had been returned as of Monday morning. Jesse Salinas, the county’s top elections official, said he suspected the rapid-fire exits by some candidates could be prompting voters to wait on casting their ballots. And some early voters, he said, had called to ask if they could possibly change their selections.

“You have to surrender what you have,” Salinas said. “You can’t vote twice.”

In Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold tweeted on Sunday that only those who had marked a ballot but not yet returned it could make a second selection, or get a new ballot.

“If you’ve returned a voted ballot, you cannot receive a second ballot, regardless of the status of the candidate you chose,” she wrote.

In North Carolina, where 110 delegates are up for grabs, voters had the option of casting ballots in person at sites in all 100 counties during a 17-day period that ended Saturday. They could also fill out traditional absentee ballots, which must be turned in or mailed by Tuesday.

Early vote selections are final. As of Saturday, more than half a million ballots had been cast in the Democratic primary, and while there is no definitive way to know which candidates garnered those votes, there’s no way to undo the decision.

“There are no mulligans in North Carolina early voting,” said Michael Bitzer, political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina.

FEELING FRUSTRATED

In many places, the frustration can be real for voters who feel their vote didn’t matter.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, is joined by former rival Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, as she endorses Biden during a campaign stop in Dallas, Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar

Some of that sentiment bubbled up on Monday, at a Colorado event for Klobuchar. Amy Valore-Caplan, a 46-year-old writer in Denver, showed up to find out that the Minnesota senator, for whom she had waited until the last minute to cast her mail-in ballot, had dropped out.

Colorado has almost exclusively mail voting, and though people can still cast ballots in person on Tuesday, about 60% post them by the day before, so they can be tallied.

Valore-Caplan said she knew Klobuchar’s candidacy was on the bubble, and actually hesitated Sunday, when she saw Buttigieg end his campaign.

“I thought it was safe,” she said, of her decision to wait another day. “I was waiting to make sure she didn’t drop out.”

PRELIMINARY PASSIONS

There’s a sentiment often seen among early voters: those who vote early are most passionate for their given candidate.

Nicolle Bugescu, a pediatric psychologist in Irvine, California, has headed up a group of health care professionals supporting Buttigieg’s campaign. Despite his exit from the race, she said Monday that she was proud to have voted early for him, even though he’d suspended his effort.

“I am so happy that I was able to do that. It’s heartbreaking, too, so it’s been an emotional roller coaster,” she said. “I will forever be proud of the vote that I cast for his historic candidacy.”

WHITHER THE DELEGATES?

Candidates who drop out of the race keep the delegates they’ve won until each state party selects the actual people who will serve as those delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. At that point, delegates won based on statewide primary and caucus results are given to the remaining viable candidates.

Delegates won based on results in congressional districts become free agents, who can support the candidate of their choice on the first ballot at the Milwaukee convention.

Young Colorado voters are counting on Bernie to deliver

Quincy Marshall is your archetypal college voter who wants their vote to represent a break in the status quo, so it’s no shock that Marshall is voting for Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s presidential primary.

“I have very intense ideas about what should happen,” said the Community College of Aurora student. “I want radicalism. Bernie’s loud and angry, so maybe we’ll get there.”

Marshall’s two most important priorities probably won’t come as much of a surprise, either: The 19-year-old wants equality and environmental protections — issues they think older generations have a hard time grasping.

Young Coloradans like Marshall are driving Sanders’ 12-point lead in the Democratic primary here, according to a Magellan Strategies poll released last week. Almost half of likely voters under 45 years old will likely or definitely support Sanders, while he was tied with Pete Buttigieg — who ended his campaign Sunday –among 45- to 64-year-olds and comes in third with the 65-and-older crowd.

Click here to read the full story from The Denver Post.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock endorses Joe Biden for president

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president Monday as Biden seeks to consolidate support ahead of the Colorado primary.

Hancock called the election “the most critical decision of this generation” and said in a statement that Biden is “the best qualified to heal the wounds of division that have been sown under Trump.”

The mayor, a prior backer of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S Sen. Michael Bennet until each dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, held off through February on endorsing one of the remaining candidates.

“Joe Biden is the president our country needs,” Hancock said. “I know he’ll unite our nation and get to work immediately delivering for working families. … As the mayor of a growing and vibrant city, Donald Trump’s reckless attacks on immigrants, health care and the environment are deeply personal. Joe is a candidate that has both the experience and the ability to get our country back on track.”

Click here to read the full story from The Denver Post:

Thousands of Colorado 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday

AURORA — Thousands of 17-year-olds are eligible to vote in Colorado’s upcoming presidential primary for the first time under a new state law.

The law allows 17-year-olds to cast ballots in spring primaries if they turn 18 before November’s general election. At least seven states and Washington, D.C., have similar laws.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, about 24,000 teens are eligible to vote in the March 3 primary under the change, a small number in a state with 3.4 million voters, the Sentinel Colorado reported.

“Chances are that turnout won’t be very high among this group, since it tends to be low among young people in general, and probably a lot of them aren’t aware they can vote now,” said Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver.

However, the new voters could help Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and that could make a difference in a tight race, Denver pollster and commentator Floyd Ciruli said. The Vermont senator has benefited from support among Generation Z and millennial voters.

Three Overland High School students who were interviewed about the new law said they did not know about their ability to vote until a few weeks ago and figure most of their peers were not aware either.

Kyle Siple was the only one among the three who had registered to vote so far but all said they planned to cast ballots. Voters can register to vote and vote in person at polling locations posted online by the secretary of state’s office.

Siple said many Hispanic students at the school, considered one of the most culturally diverse in the nation, have lost faith in the electoral process because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

“Some of them just think it is hopeless, they won’t vote,” said Siple, who is white.

Colorado has both a caucus and a primary next month. Here’s how they will work.

Political caucuses have come under renewed criticism since the chaotic Democratic caucuses in Iowa earlier this month, but Coloradans have no reason for concern, state party and election leaders say.

Democratic and GOP caucus meetings are set to take place across Colorado on March 7, but the process will be much different than in Iowa, where it took days to sort out the results on the Democratic side. For one thing, caucus-goers here won’t be choosing presidential nominees. Registered voters will do that via ballots that are already being sent out.

Also, the parties won’t be using an app to report caucus results — technology that took the blame for the failures in Iowa.

“We really prioritize cyber-security in all of our election support systems,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said.

Read the full story from The Denver Post.

5 things to know about the Colorado primary — and caucus

This is the first time in two decades Colorado will not use caucuses to select presidential candidates. Mail-in ballots for the presidential primary started going out to Colorado Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters last week. Ballots will be due back March 3, commonly known as Super Tuesday because more than a dozen states hold primaries then. This will be Colorado’s first year holding a primary on Super Tuesday.

Candidates for every office except president — such as state representative, district attorney and congressman — must either collect signatures or go through caucus and assembly to get on the June 30 primary ballot. Democratic and GOP caucus meetings are set to take place across Colorado on March 7. The caucus process is sometimes confusing, but basically, those who participate elect delegates who get to decide which of those non-presidential candidates go on to the next step of their elections.

Here are 5 things to know before you cast your votes.

How will results be reported?

The presidential primary results will be posted to the Secretary of State’s website March 3, and the Democratic Party plans to start posting results the following day. For the caucuses, the parties will be tallying and pulling results from the preference polls, reporting to their counties, which will then report to the Secretary of State.

Read the full story from The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper files petitions for Democratic Senate primary

DENVER — Colorado U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper filed voter petitions with the secretary of state’s office Wednesday in hopes of qualifying for the Democratic Party’s June 30 primary.

The former two-term governor is in a crowded field of Democrats hoping to face Republican Cory Gardner in November. Gardner is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP senators seeking re-election because Colorado has become reliably Democratic in the age of President Donald Trump.

Hickenlooper dropped a presidential bid in August and joined a Democratic Senate race that includes former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

Major party candidates can either petition their way onto their respective primary ballots or garner enough votes to qualify through a process that begins with party caucuses on March 7 and concludes with state assemblies on April 18.

Successful petitioners need to present at least 1,500 valid voter signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts to qualify.

Presidential primary ballots mailed out

Ballots for Colorado’s first presidential primary election in 20 years were mailed Monday to registered Democrats and Republicans, Pitkin County’s clerk said.

State voters decided in 2016 to replace Colorado’s caucus system with a primary, which means that registered Republicans and Democrats will receive a ballot with their party’s nominees in the mail. Unaffiliated voters will receive both ballots, though they can return only one.

The ballots will feature 17 Democrats and six Republicans, said Janice Vos Caudill, Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder.

The last day to put the ballots in the mail is Feb. 24, when early voting begins, she said. Before that and after, Pitkin County voters can take ballots to drop-off boxes in front of the Pitkin County Building in Aspen, at Snowmass Village Town Hall and at Basalt Town Hall, she said. The boxes can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are monitored by video surveillance.

Early voting at the Pitkin County Building will take place between Feb. 24 and March 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Saturday voting occurring between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For those who don’t want to vote early, Colorado’s presidential primary will take place March 3, when registered voters can go to the Pitkin County Building and vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Vos Caudill said.

Colorado’s renewed presidential primary means that 17-year-olds who will be 18 by Nov. 3 — the date of this year’s presidential election — can participate.

Colorado will hold another primary June 30 to determine who will run for state races and U.S. House and Senate contests in November.

Democrat Donald Valdez drops congressional bid, attempt to unseat Tipton in 3rd U.S. House district

Democrat Donald Valdez has ended his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, opting instead to seek a third term in the state legislature. 

Valdez, of La Jara, announced his congressional campaign over the summer and was only able to raise about $25,000. He faced three others in the Democratic primary to face Tipton in 2020. 

Valdez said he was leaving the race because of threats to the aquifer in the San Luis Valley, a broad swath of which he represents. 

Sean Tonner, deputy chief of staff to former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, wants to drill a series of wells on his recently acquired Rancho Rosado and pipe 22,000 acre-feet of water a year around the Sangre de Cristos to the Front Range. (Owens is a principal at Tonner’s company, Renewable Water Resources.)

Click here to read the full story from The Colorado Sun.

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