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Diane Mitsch Bush wins Democratic primary, will face Scott Tipton in 3rd Colorado’s Congressional District

Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican incumbent representing Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, now knows who he will face off against in the Nov. 6 general election: former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.

All three Democratic campaigns eagerly awaited the returns once the clock struck 7 p.m. and the primary ballot boxes officially closed Tuesday evening.

From the first reporting, Mitsch Bush and her followers welcomed the results in from the Democratic headquarters in Pueblo as she was won in overwhelming fashion with 64 percent of the vote.

"People have taken time away from families, from their leisure time, from work to really get out and call and knock and work on the campaign," Bush said. "People from all over the district, from all walks of life. You know, votes from ranchers, coal miners, nurses, artists, teachers, heavy equipment operators and just everybody you could think of. … People from really all walks of life. Again, it's so humbling."

Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon, who finished second, stood alongside supporters at the Strater Hotel in Durango and former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi watched with family and friends at his home in Carbondale.

Mitsch Bush won handily in Pitkin County with 58 percent of the vote, with Hanlon at 36.4 percent and Menconi at 4.9 percent.

With a district comprised of 29 counties from Moffat to Pueblo, turnout, particularly that of unaffiliated voters, was on everyone's mind. The looming question: How would the newly enacted Proposition 108, which, for the first time in Colorado history allows unaffiliated voters a voice in the primaries, affect the results, some of which came in not long after 7 p.m.?

At 8 p.m., just over 49,000 votes were reported and 64.2 percent of them belonged to Mitsch Bush. That number held pretty much all night. Not long after, Mitsch Bush was declared the winner.

As of 10:15 p.m., of 61,377 votes (66 percent of counties reporting), she had 39,353 votes. Hanlon was second at just over 17,000 and Menconi was third at nearly 5,000 votes.

An attorney and lifelong rancher, Hanlon said his first run for office was humbling.

"It's been six months. We've built an incredible network of volunteers," he said. "We have supporters in all 29 counties of the district. Those supporters, that support of those folks has been humbling and it's really … honestly it's been one of the greatest joys of my life to work together."

A social activist, Menconi said of his grassroots campaign, "Your voices are being heard. I have tried to represent the voices that are not heard of the poor and minorities and your voices are being heard as difficult a time we are in right now and I appreciate all the hard work that you do in every aspect of your life with your families and your communities."

Mitsch Bush faces the task of unseating Tipton, who has held his seat since 2011 and who defeated his 2016 Democratic challenger, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz, by nearly 50,000 votes.

Pitkin County voters mirror statewide results; Polis, Stapleton lead in county

While local races will have to wait until the November general election, about 25 percent of the registered Pitkin County voters nonetheless chimed in on statewide races during Tuesday's primary election.

The Colorado governor's race was, by far, the most contested race this election, with four Republicans and four Democrats vying for the chance to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper.

With 3,438 Pitkin County ballots counted as of 10:36 p.m. Tuesday night, the Democratic race was proving a bit more competitive than the Republican side, where Walker Stapleton was way out ahead with more than 63 percent of the vote. For the Democrats, Jared Polis held a solid lead of 48.7 percent. After that, Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston were a distant second each with 23 percent of Pitkin County voters.

Republican Scott Tipton's 3rd Congressional District seat attracted three Democratic challengers, including attorney Karl Hanlon of Carbondale.

Hanlon, however, trailed three-term state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs 58.7 percent to 36.4 percent in Pitkin County for the right to run against Tipton in November. Tipton did not have a Republican challenger.

The most competitive race of the night — in Pitkin County anyway — was the fight for the Republican nomination to run for state treasurer. Justin Everett was leading Polly Lawrence 38.3 percent to 31.4 percent in that contest, with Brian Watson a close third with about 30.3 percent of the vote.

Dave Young was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to run for state treasurer.

Finally, Phil Weiser (58.5 percent) was ahead of Joe Salazar (41.5 percent) for the Democratic nomination to run for attorney general. The Republican in that race, George Brauchler, had no challengers.

According to the Secretary of State's office, there were 12,241 active voters register in May in Pitkin County.

Pitkin County will feature several competitive races for county offices in November.

The District 1 commissioner seat will feature incumbent Patti Clapper against the man she beat in 2014, Rob Ittner. Just one person, Kelly McNicholas Kury, filed to run for the District 2 seat, currently held by Commissioner Rachel Richards, who is term-limited.

Sheriff Joe DiSalvo will face longtime Aspen Police Officer Walter Chi in a bid for his third term in office, while former Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland will run against Deb Bamesberger, a longtime member of the county assessor's staff, for county assessor. Longtime Assessor Tom Isaac is retiring.

Clerk Janice Vos Caudill will run unopposed for her third term.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Dave Young positioned to win Democratic primary for Colorado treasurer; Republican race remains close

In the primary races for Colorado treasurer, Democratic state Rep. Dave Young looked positioned to best first-time candidate Bernard Douthit.

As of 9:30 p.m., Young was leading Douthit, with 69 percent of the vote after 418,000 ballots had been counted.

In the Republican primary for treasurer, the race was too close to call early Tuesday night.

Businessman Brian Watson and state Rep. Justin Everett, of Littleton, were locked in a close battle. Watson held a slight advantage, with 38 percent of the vote after 3379,000 votes had been counted as of about 9:30 p.m. Everett had 36 percent.

State Rep. Polly Lawrence was third, with 25 percent of the vote.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will be the Republican nominee as he runs for a second term after running opposed. He will face Democrat Jenna Griswold, who ran unopposed as well, in November.

For more on this report, go to denverpost.com.

Polis, Stapleton to face off for Colorado governor’s seat

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s primary delivered a left-versus-Trump showdown for this year’s gubernatorial elections, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis squaring off against Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton for a seat that Republicans haven’t held in this purple state in more than a decade.

The liberal Polis, a five-term congressman, and Stapleton, who embraced President Donald Trump’s immigration and tax policies, wasted no time in trading barbs following their primary victories Tuesday.

“Make no mistake: As governor, Jared Polis will raise every tax and fee he can to take more money from hardworking Coloradans,” Stapleton said.

“People are tired of hearing that divisive political rhetoric,” Polis said. “They want a governor who can unite rather than divide them. I can work with Trump when we need to, but I am not beholden to him.”

As a Democrat, Polis is an early, though far from guaranteed, favorite to become Colorado’s next governor. Colorado’s last Republican governor was Bill Owens, who served from 1999 to 2007. Centrist Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited.

In other races, Democrat Jason Crow won the primary in suburban Denver’s 6th Congressional District to try to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. Doug Lamborn, the six-term Republican congressman in El Paso County’s 5th Congressional District, easily won his primary and is a heavy favorite to keep the seat.

Polis, a tech entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, advocates single-payer health care, local control over Colorado’s $31 billion oil and gas industry and lofty renewable energy goals for the state.

He invested $12 million in his campaign and is a fierce critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies and efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Polis also wants to secure free preschool and kindergarten for all Colorado children.

Stapleton, a distant relative of President George W. Bush, closely wedded himself to Trump on virtually every issue — even refusing to condemn the Trump administration’s immigrant family separation policies — except trade, where he opposes tariffs that could produce a trade war and harm Colorado industries.

He welcomed the federal repeal in the individual mandate that helps subsidize the Affordable Care Act and has pledged to fight any public expansion, especially when it comes to Medicaid.

Stapleton attacked Polis as someone who would chase energy jobs out of Colorado, and he also opposes Polis’ pledge to modify a constitutional amendment that severely restricts Colorado’s ability to raise taxes or spending.

Polis argues that Colorado’s rapid population growth — 5.6 million people and counting — demands a fiscal system that allows the state to invest needed billions of dollars in its underfunded infrastructure and public education.

A former state board of education member and founder of English-language schools for immigrants, Polis defeated former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, who was endorsed by Colorado’s teachers unions. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston, an educator and gun control advocate, and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne also ran.

Stapleton defeated former state Rep. Vic Mitchell, who invested nearly $5 million in his own campaign; Doug Robinson, a first-time candidate and nephew of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; and businessman Greg Lopez.

A voter-approved initiative in 2016 allowed unaffiliated voters, Colorado’s largest voting bloc, to participate in either the Democratic or the Republican primary. Early numbers showed more than 30 percent of active voters cast ballots, a high percentage for a primary in a non-presidential election year.

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Associated Press writers Brian Eason and Kathleen Foody contributed to this report.

Much Trump talk at Colorado’s whittling of governor hopefuls

BROOMFIELD (AP) — A former mayor delivered a rousing speech praising President Donald Trump and helped hand a stunning defeat to Colorado’s moderate attorney general in the race to enter the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary Saturday, while Democrats selected two candidates who pledged to push back against the White House.

In the Denver suburb of Broomfield, Cary Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis both won spots Saturday on the Democratic gubernatorial ballot, setting the stage for a tightly contested primary fight to succeed term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Kennedy, a former state treasurer, was the clear favorite of the party faithful at the Democratic state assembly, buoyed by the support of teachers. She won 62 percent of the vote to Polis’ 33 percent.

Both candidates brought a similar message to the Broomfield assembly, pledging to push back against Trump, to protect the environment and to boost funding to schools by reforming the state’s strict limits on taxation.

They both promised to expand access to health care, but prescribed different solutions, with Polis pushing for a universal single-payer system similar to Medicare, and Kennedy proposing a public option to supplement existing private and public offerings.

“Health care isn’t a luxury for the rich,” Kennedy said. “It is a right.”

Polis touted his record in Congress, promising: “I will be ready on Day One to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump.”

Down the road in Boulder, front-runner Walker Stapleton and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez knocked Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman out of the Republican race.

Stapleton, the state treasurer endorsed by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and former Congressman Tom Tancredo, took 44 percent of the vote at the GOP state assembly in Boulder. Lopez took 33 percent after calling Trump “a true leader” and attacking sanctuary cities, which refuse to help enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Coffman failed to get the 30 percent of the vote needed to advance to the June 26 primary. Coffman had decided to try to qualify at the assembly rather than petition her way onto the primary ballot.

With Buck and Tancredo on stage behind him, Stapleton took aim at Polis’ single-payer proposal.

“Your health care belongs to you and not to the government,” Stapleton said to cheers.

Coffman drew boos in brief preliminary remarks earlier Saturday when she criticized the party for allowing Stapleton to compete at the assembly. Stapleton did so after abandoning his petition drive to qualify on Tuesday, citing possible fraud in the collection of signatures.

Coffman insisted the party broke rules in allowing Stapleton to compete at the assembly on short notice. The GOP says no rules were broken.

Coffman struggled to attract core conservatives who traditionally dominate the GOP assembly for her moderate positions as attorney general on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. She increasingly tried to stake out tougher positions on sanctuary cities and other issues during the campaign.

Republicans Barry Farah, a Colorado Springs businessman; Steve Barlock, a co-chair of Trump’s 2016 Denver campaign; and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter did not qualify. Businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson are petitioning.

Democrat Erik Underwood, a fringe candidate who ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2016, did not qualify. Mike Johnston, a former state senator, has successfully petitioned, and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne is attempting to.

Colorado governor hopefuls court support Saturday at state assemblies

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s major party assemblies on Saturday feature a surprisingly open Republican governor’s contest with candidates courting delegates loyal to President Donald Trump and a Democratic competition pledging an anti-Trump vision for the state.

The Republican State Assembly in Boulder and the Democratic State Assembly in Broomfield will help shape who gets into Colorado’s gubernatorial primaries June 26. Candidates can qualify by submitting enough voter signatures from across the state or by winning at least 30 percent of the delegate vote at the assemblies.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited.

Democrat Mike Johnston, a former state senator, has successfully petitioned. And with just one candidate relying solely on the assembly process to make the Democratic ballot, the weekend is not expected to dramatically reshape the race on the left to succeed Hickenlooper.

For Republicans, the stakes are much higher. The GOP assembly was blown wide open this week when Treasurer Walker Stapleton tossed his petitions over fraud concerns. He must now convince delegates in Boulder to vote for him.

It’s also do-or-die Saturday for Attorney General Cynthia Coffman; Barry Farah, a Colorado Springs businessman; Steve Barlock, a co-chair of Trump’s 2016 Denver campaign; Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter and ex-Parker Mayor Greg Lopez. Businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson are petitioning.

Stapleton’s problems sparked infighting with Coffman and Robinson and echoed those of Jon Keyser, a top contender in the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate race until his campaign unraveled over petition fraud.

It forces Stapleton – whose hefty fundraising was helped by former President George H.W. Bush – to make a convincing case Saturday in the 12 minutes allotted each would-be candidate. Stapleton and Bush are relatives.

“This convention is wide open. I don’t think any of the campaigns have really worked the delegates very hard,” said Dick Wadhams, a former state GOP chairman and veteran campaign consultant.

All will appeal to a conservative party base that dominates state assemblies, Wadhams said, and only Barlock has aligned himself with Trump from the outset.

“The danger in doing that is that candidates veer off too far to the right and find themselves compromised” in the general election, Wadhams said.

The two conventions are expected to offer starkly contrasting visions of Colorado’s future at a time when the state is thriving economically, but facing deep social and fiscal challenges as it grapples with the effects of a population boom. For both sides, the polarizing national climate looms large.

For Republicans, protecting Colorado’s strict rules on taxation and spending from increasingly progressive voting blocks on the Front Range is a top priority, alongside immigration enforcement, school choice, health care costs under the Barack Obama-era Affordable Care Act and gun freedoms.

The left, meanwhile, views 2018 as a referendum both on Trump and on a state government that for years has struggled to pay for schools, roads and other public services — in part because of Colorado’s constitutional limits on taxes. Other top issues include housing costs, climate change, gun control and protecting the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

For the Democrats, former treasurer Cary Kennedy eschewed petitions for the assembly, cultivating grass-roots support that led to a win in March’s nonbinding party caucuses. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis also will appear at the assembly, though he has submitted petitions for validation by the secretary of state’s office.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne also is petitioning.

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Associated Press writer Brian Eason contributed to this report.

Colorado governor hopefuls court support at state assemblies

By JAMES ANDERSON,  Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s major party assemblies on Saturday feature a surprisingly open Republican governor’s contest with candidates courting delegates loyal to President Donald Trump and a Democratic competition pledging an anti-Trump vision for the state.

The Republican State Assembly in Boulder and the Democratic State Assembly in Broomfield will help shape who gets into Colorado’s gubernatorial primaries June 26. Candidates can qualify by submitting enough voter signatures from across the state or by winning at least 30 percent of the delegate vote at the assemblies.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited.

Democrat Mike Johnston, a former state senator, has successfully petitioned. And with just one candidate relying solely on the assembly process to make the Democratic ballot, the weekend is not expected to dramatically reshape the race on the left to succeed Hickenlooper.

For Republicans, the stakes are much higher. The GOP assembly was blown wide open this week when Treasurer Walker Stapleton tossed his petitions over fraud concerns. He must now convince delegates in Boulder to vote for him.

It’s also do-or-die Saturday for Attorney General Cynthia Coffman; Barry Farah, a Colorado Springs businessman; Steve Barlock, a co-chair of Trump’s 2016 Denver campaign; Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter and ex-Parker Mayor Greg Lopez. Businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson are petitioning.

Stapleton’s problems sparked infighting with Coffman and Robinson and echoed those of Jon Keyser, a top contender in the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate race until his campaign unraveled over petition fraud.

It forces Stapleton – whose hefty fundraising was helped by former President George H.W. Bush – to make a convincing case Saturday in the 12 minutes allotted each would-be candidate. Stapleton and Bush are relatives.

“This convention is wide open. I don’t think any of the campaigns have really worked the delegates very hard,” said Dick Wadhams, a former state GOP chairman and veteran campaign consultant.

All will appeal to a conservative party base that dominates state assemblies, Wadhams said, and only Barlock has aligned himself with Trump from the outset.

“The danger in doing that is that candidates veer off too far to the right and find themselves compromised” in the general election, Wadhams said.

The two conventions are expected to offer starkly contrasting visions of Colorado’s future at a time when the state is thriving economically, but facing deep social and fiscal challenges as it grapples with the effects of a population boom. For both sides, the polarizing national climate looms large.

For Republicans, protecting Colorado’s strict rules on taxation and spending from increasingly progressive voting blocks on the Front Range is a top priority, alongside immigration enforcement, school choice, health care costs under the Barack Obama-era Affordable Care Act and gun freedoms.

The left, meanwhile, views 2018 as a referendum both on Trump and on a state government that for years has struggled to pay for schools, roads and other public services — in part because of Colorado’s constitutional limits on taxes. Other top issues include housing costs, climate change, gun control and protecting the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

For the Democrats, former treasurer Cary Kennedy eschewed petitions for the assembly, cultivating grass-roots support that led to a win in March’s nonbinding party caucuses. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis also will appear at the assembly, though he has submitted petitions for validation by the secretary of state’s office.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne also is petitioning.

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Associated Press writer Brian Eason contributed to this report.

Cary Kennedy tops non-binding Colorado caucus vote for governor

DENVER — Democratic voters at Colorado’s non-binding party caucuses selected former state treasurer Cary Kennedy as their top choice for governor, according to preliminary results released by the party Wednesday.

Kennedy received 50 percent of more than 23,000 votes at precinct causes Tuesday night — reflecting her campaign’s ambitious efforts to register voters and train them for the informal neighborhood gatherings.

She and Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman want to become Colorado’s first female governor. Incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper is term-limited.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis followed Kennedy with nearly 33 percent. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston had nearly 9 percent, according to preliminary results.

Republicans held their own caucuses but don’t conduct a straw poll in non-presidential election years.

The state party will assign delegates based on the straw poll to county assemblies in a process leading to a state assembly in April. To qualify for the June 26 primary, candidates need at least 30 percent of delegate votes at the state assembly or must get 10,500 valid voter signatures, split evenly among Colorado’s seven congressional districts, to petition onto the ballot.

The results were a welcome boost for Kennedy, who’s the only Democratic gubernatorial candidate going the assembly route, and for Polis, whose straw poll showing suggests momentum heading into the party’s state assembly April 14.

“I could feel the momentum building as I traveled the state,” Kennedy said in a statement.

Political newcomer and manufacturing business owner Noel Ginsburg got 2 percent of caucus votes. Nearly 7 percent were uncommitted.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne’s campaign didn’t participate in the caucuses.

Kennedy authored a constitutional amendment designed to guarantee public school funding hikes each year. It’s circumvented each year by legislators who by law must balance Colorado’s budget.

She has called for restoring that funding, creating a public health insurance option for Coloradans and untangling constitutional strictures that limit infrastructure spending in the rapidly growing state. She responded to President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement by proposing Colorado raise its renewable energy goals from 30 percent to 50 percent.

Elected treasurer in 2006, Kennedy lost a bid for a second term to Walker Stapleton, the current treasurer who is considered a front-runner in the GOP gubernatorial field this year.

George Brauchler exits crowded governor’s race, will run for Colorado AG

Republican George Brauchler, once a leading contender for governor, announced Monday he will suspend his campaign and instead enter the race for attorney general.

"My decision to run for office has always been about my commitment to serving Colorado far more than it has been about the title of the elected position," he said in a written statement. "That commitment remains just as strong as we make this important change."

Brauchler called the decision "neither easy or obvious," but the move was expected for days as his pathway to victory in the governor's race began to dwindle when former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a firebrand and favorite among conservative activists, announced his bid for the state's top job. And when Attorney General Cynthia Coffman jumped into the race, it left a wide open race to replace her.

Brauchler, the18th Judicial District attorney and prosecutor of the Aurora theater shooter, won early support from the party faithful, but his bid for governor suffered a shakeup Nov. 1 with the abrupt departure of his campaign manager.

And with so many Republicans running for their party's nomination in the governor's race — at least eight have already jumped in — his path to victory in that contest seemed to be slimming.

Other Republicans, like Walker Stapleton and Victor Mitchell, already had amassed larger financial war chests. And the addition of Tancredo made it hard to see Brauchler getting the nomination by lining up the overwhelming support of hard-line conservatives.

For more on this story, go to denverpost.com.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Tancredo makes third bid for Colorado governor

DENVER — Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is entering Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial race, bringing a familiar hard line on immigration and drawing an early barb Tuesday from Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.

Colorado Politics reported Tuesday that Tancredo will officially launch his third bid for governor on Wednesday.

A five-term former congressman from Denver’s southern suburbs, Tancredo made his mark as an advocate for strict immigration laws and enforcement and is a contributor to conservative Breitbart News, run by Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump. He said he’d welcome Bannon’s support if he needs it.

Tancredo ran for governor in 2010 and 2014 — the first time as a candidate of the American Constitution Party. He sparred with GOP leaders both times and blamed his 2014 primary loss to former Rep. Bob Beauprez on a spending campaign by the Republican Governors Association. He quit the party again in 2015 but rejoined this year.

Tancredo brings a long-held hard line on immigration issues, and he listed roads and gun rights as among his other priorities. He condemned Republican leaders for staying silent when a Colorado Springs resort said it would not host a 2018 conference organized by VDARE, a national anti-immigration group some have said is a forum for white nationalists.

“We have to anticipate what the establishment will do. It could get ugly,” Tancredo told Colorado Politics. He also said he’s been asking voters if they think he could defeat Polis if it came to that. “So far, it looks like I have a chance,” he said.

Nine Republicans and seven Democrats want to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Polis issued a statement Tuesday saying Tancredo “has spent his career championing hate groups, vilifying immigrants, and seeking divisiveness.”

“We cannot allow Steve Bannon’s toxic brand of hate and white nationalism to take root in Colorado,” Polis said.

The crowded GOP primary features State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, George Brauchler, who prosecuted Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, and businessman Vic Mitchell, among others. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnson and businessman Noel Ginsburg are running on the Democratic side.

Tancredo served in Congress from 1999-2009. He was regional director of the U.S. Department of Education under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and is a former state representative.

Democrats’ governor candidates gather in Edwards, voice support of DACA

EDWARDS — Colorado Democrats got together Friday in one of the only gatherings in the state to feature all five of their candidates for governor.

While many recent issues made their way into the discourse, the Trump administration’s plans to end the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, dominated much of the conversation. The DACA program seeks to protect immigrants brought here by their parents at a young age.

Vail native Mike Johnston, who announced his candidacy for Governor in early 2017, found a lot of support from the mostly local crowd, who applauded him for his efforts to help students who arrived in the U.S. as children and were having trouble obtaining in-state tuition.

“That was what made me run for office, and I spent three years in the state senate, finally getting that job done, so that all of those kids to get access to college, like our kids had,” Johnston said, in reference to his sponsoring of the Colorado legislature’s Dream Act which passed in 2013, while Johnston was serving as a senator in the legislature. The Dream Act granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.

“This week was a hard week for me, because I got a lot of calls and texts from those kids who had fought their way through and gotten to college and graduated, and gotten jobs,” Johnston told local Democrats on Friday. “So this was one of those weeks where you realize that this question is so much bigger than any one of us here.”

‘PIVOTAL MOMENT’ FOR PARTY

Governor candidate Noel Ginsburg, himself an East Vail resident and former Vail Associates employee, shared stories of working with young immigrants brought to this country by their parents, also known as “Dreamers.” Ginsburg and his wife Leslie co-founded the Colorado I Have a Dream foundation, which seeks to increase the state’s high school graduation rate.

“20 years ago, Leslie and I adopted our own class of Dreamer kids,” Ginsburg told the crowd. “They were from the South Lincoln neighborhood, a neighborhood with a 90 percent dropout rate … 10 years later, we graduated 90 percent of our kids.”

Governor candidate Cary Kennedy said, for her family, the rhetoric coming out of Washington regarding immigrants is personal.

“My wonderful husband Saurabh … is an immigrant to this country, he moved here with his parents when he was 7 years old,” Kennedy told the crowd. “The hateful and demeaning rhetoric … against immigrants who built this great country … has no place here in Colorado. We will defend our DACA students and we will defend the rights of immigrants in the state of Colorado.”

Congressman Jared Polis, who represents Vail in the U.S. House of Representatives as the elected official in Colorado’s 2nd district, said the next governor needs to be able to stand up against President Donald Trump when it comes to issues such as DACA. Polis is also running for governor.

“Now we’ve seen (President Trump) target Dreamers — our young, aspiring, de facto Americans who grew up here and know no other country,” Polis said. “They simply need to become Americans in law, rather than just in fact, and (Trump) has targeted them for additional stigmatization. So we’re living in a pivotal moment, not only for our party, but for our nation, and for our values.”

MEDICARE FOR ALL?

Following his speech, Polis said another fundamental issue for Democrats at the moment is the topic of health care, and a Medicare for all program, which he is currently sponsoring.

“Medicare for all means a Medicare-like program which would be very similar to Medicare, which would be accessible for everybody as a basic level of insurance,” Polis said. “People understand Medicare, there’s a comfort level with it. I know a lot of 59 and 60 year olds who wish they had it now.”

Running for Polis’ seat in the House is Democrat Joe Neguse, who also spoke out in favor of Medicare for all on Friday.

“There’s a lot of places where Obamacare is not working, and Summit and Eagle Counties is a great example of this,” Neguse said. “The premiums are so high that you won’t be able afford the deductible if you need it, so one is hard pressed to call it insurance. With Medicare for all, ultimately you create a system in which everyone has coverage. To me, it’s the morally right thing to do, and the economically right thing to do. Ultimately, what we need is competition, and you breed competition through a public option.”

Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, who declared her candidacy for Governor on Thursday, said on Friday that health care is her area of expertise, and the area voters will benefit from most if she is elected governor.

“Health care in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties is the most expensive in the United States,” Lynne said Friday. “Four years ago John Hickenlooper said to me, when I was running Kaiser Permanante, what are you going to do about it? I said I’m going to build medical offices in these counties, we’re going to talk about affordable care and we’re going to deliver.”