Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nearly all of the 180+ on the Senate District 31 vacancy committee gathered last night to pick a replacement for Jennifer Veiga, who didn't even bother to turn in an appearance herself.

Since she had endorsed Pat Steadman, I figured her not being there would mean trouble for him.

No, quite the opposite. It meant they had counted noses and her appearance just wouldn't make any difference, Steadman had it in the bag from the beginning.

My thanks to Phil Perington, Dan Lynch, and Mark Wonder who spoke on my behalf. And also to Mary who attended and gave me such positive support.

Here's the Denver Post story in this mornings paper, followed by the talk I gave last night in my futile effort to get elected:

Senate seat goes to lobbyist
Pat Steadman will fill the vacancy created by Jennifer Veiga's exit.
By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
Posted: 05/21/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

A Denver lobbyist who has championed civil rights beat nine other Democratic contenders to become Colorado's newest state senator.

Pat Steadman won a vacancy committee election Wednesday night to replace Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, who resigned to move to Australia.

Veiga had endorsed Steadman, who lobbies at the state Capitol. He has said he plans to resign from his firm.

The election caused angst on two fronts:

Adams County Democrats wanted someone from their county to win the election; Senate District 31 comprises central Denver and portions of Adams County.

Others pushed for a minority to win.

"We need some color down at the statehouse," said Julia Hicks of Westminster, who is black. "I'm sick of the lily-white boys club."

Her husband, Butch Hicks, ran for the seat but lost in the first round of voting. She then threw her support to Alex Sanchez, spokesman for Denver Public Schools.

In order to win the seat outright after the first round of voting, a candidate needed to receive 82 votes. That didn't happen, so the top four vote-getters went to the next round.

They were former Rep. Ann Ragsdale, with 56 votes; Steadman, 44 votes; Sanchez, 31; and Jill Conrad, a DPS board member, 10 votes.

Conrad withdrew her name and pledged her support to Sanchez.

"I chose Alex because I am really thinking about the future of the Democratic Party," she said afterward. "He's a bright, young Latino leader who has a vision."

Steadman won the second round of voting with 63 votes, followed by Ragsdale with 53 and Sanchez with 44. The top two went to the third and final round, with Sanchez endorsing Steadman.

Steadman won the third round. He will become the third openly gay lawmaker in the Colorado General Assembly.

The election was held at Morey Middle School near the Capitol, which also irked some Adams County members on the vacancy committee. They argued that the two union halls in Adams County offered air conditioning and more convenient parking.

Here's the talk I gave:

In the interest of time, I’m asking there be no applause until I finish. Laughter, perhaps, but no applause.

Hello, my name is John. I’m a recovering Republican.

Thanks to the grace of God, I sobered up, looked over, and there was Karl Rove and the Republican Party. The first presidential candidate I ever voted for was Hubert Humphrey, so I feel like I’ve come home.

I believe we need to use the principles of recovery for a return to the sober roots that have made this country great in the past. In his wonderful talk over the weekend to the graduates at Notre Dame, and to us, President Obama called for each of us to open our hearts and minds, to seek common ground, to be a crossroads and a lighthouse. We must find ways to listen to diverse opinions, seeking light not heat. I’m uniquely equiped to help us do just that.

What do I hope to do? As never before, we need to find creative solutions to bring good healthcare to all people, restore our economy, support families and the education of all children, a safety net of protection for all citizens from conception to natural birth, fair public financing of political campaigns, and preserving the details of our daily life in Denver and Colorado even down to the level of providing good access into the mountains and restoring the Ski Train and an affordable solution to the I70 logjam.

Today is really the start of the campaign for 2010. Whoever you select tonight will stand in front of you soon for evaluation. You have a unique opportunity tonight to give a fresh voice and a new perspective a trial run.

If you elect me I promise that: 1) I’ll delight you as your representative; 2) I’ll stand for reelection as a Democrat through our wonderful Colorado caucus system and will welcome primary opponents and the healthy dialog primary campaigns create; 3) If elected tonight I’ll listen to you as well as speak my mind on all issues until the Senate caucus takes a position, and then I’ll vote with our Senate caucus. I’ll be a good Democrat.

Why not give a fresh voice a chance? My name is Wren, John Wren. And I ask for your confidence and your vote tonight. Please vote for John Wren.