Morgan Carroll, a former state legislator who recently lost a bid to replace Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in Congress, intends to run for chair of the Colorado Democratic Party.
Rick Palacio, who has led the party for six years, announced Tuesday that he will not seek another term.
And David Sabados, a campaign consultant and chair of the Colorado Young Dems who sought to replace Palacio last year, was considering running again but now intends to back Carroll and run for first vice chair instead.
Carroll said she was like many Democrats in that the election results, which leave the Republicans in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, were an occasion for soul-searching.
“The question for me was, ‘Where do I feel like I can make the most difference and where can I have the most impact?'” she said. “I think we are in a very concerning time. When I think about what’s at stake, this felt like the way to make the most difference.”
Carroll considers herself a progressive populist — she wrote a book about grassroots organizing called “Take Back Your Government.” She said the first thing she wants to do is a listening tour of sorts around the state to hear what people want from the party.
“The tone and culture that I’m interested in setting at the party is that all ideas and all people are welcome here,” she said. “I want this to be — for lack of a better word — a crowd-sourced approach where people get to invent the party they want to see. The more people who participate in this, the stronger we’ll be. At the end of the day, we need to be absolutely in touch with our voters and what they want and be in a good position to recruit candidates who will implement those policies.”
In a press release announcing her intentions Tuesday, Carroll said electing Democrats at every level of government is not just a matter of winning on some score card.
“President-elect (Donald) Trump, Speaker (Paul) Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have promoted a fringe agenda that rewards only the wealthiest people and corporations and creates economic insecurity for everyone else,” she wrote. “They have fanned the flames of intolerance and bigotry. They have made hate mainstream. The majority of Americans did not vote for them yet they now have undivided control of the United States of America.
“Our job is to unite to defend and protect our values, people and the planet and make sure we are in a good position to build on our successes and to win in local, state and federal races. Winning those seats is not simply a tally on a score card but will impact the economic opportunities and personal freedoms of millions of people,” she continued.
Palacio told the Denver Post on Tuesday that he wanted Carroll to replace him. It’s not immediately clear if anyone else will seek the job.
Sabados said he decided to throw his support behind Carroll because they share many of the same ideas for strengthening the party, and he wants to avoid a divisive leadership battle.
In an email formally announcing his vice chair bid, Sabados said the divisions in the party can be turned into an asset.
“We cannot ignore the divisions in our Party when they can in fact be a strength. While Secretary Clinton was our party’s eventual nominee, Senator Sanders won Colorado by a wide margin and brought thousands of new activists to the Party,” he wrote. “To those who put their hearts and soul into Senator Sanders’ campaign — activists who are fresh or experienced, young or old – I want you to know: I hear you. I understand your frustrations.”
While Carroll and Sabados are associated with the progressive wing of the party, Sabados said party leadership is not about promoting a particular policy agenda but helping Democrats get elected so that they can enact their policy agenda.
Sabados said the party needs to be reaching into even the reddest counties and helping Democrats get county commissioner seats and other local offices to build a bench of candidates who can be competitive around the state.
“We need to make sure we’re looking at races across the state and not just the federal and legislative races,” he said. “The Republicans have spent a lot of time building a bench of county commissioners and others and Democrats need to do that as well. Too often we’ve been an urban party, and we need to make sure we’re reaching out to Democrats and unaffiliateds in every county, no matter how red it might be.”