When all Democratic state house members took the stage, there were more than a few women in the group.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
Sen. Michael Bennett joked about he and Gov. John Hickenlooper both possibly running for president.
Gov. Jared Polis was all smiles as he mixed and mingled with the sold-out crowd at the Colorado Democratic Party’s biggest fundraiser March 9 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. It was renamed the Annual Obama Dinner last year in honor on the nation’s 44th president,
Polis said he continues to be dedicated to his major goals, including making free all-day kindergarten available to all Colorado families and reducing the cost of health care, but it is challenging to keep focused on his larger goals while confronting everyday issues that arise like teacher strikes and deadly avalanches.
In his speech from the stage, he said, “We have a historical opportunity to govern. There’s a lot of work ahead to deliver on the promises we made to the voters. We want to make life better for working families with things like renewable energy by 2040.” He acknowledged Excel Energy for their partnership in that goal.
Rep. Diana DeGette was in high demand by local Democrats.
Polis went on, “We are focused on saving money on health care. Many bills leading there are bipartisan. We will work with Republicans to deliver savings to Colorado families… We will not give up until we have free full-day kindergarten for every child in our state.”
Dave Young, state treasurer, had served on the Joint Budget Committee of the legislature before being elected. He said that his office has now reduced the backlog of unclaimed property requests from 13,000 to 4,000. He credited Walker Stapleton, former state treasurer, for instituting the process of automating formerly all-paper claims and starting to tackle the backlog, which he has continued since taking office.
State Rep. Tom Sullivan, attending the dinner with his wife, said that Republican claims that respondents under his proposed Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) are deprived of due process is not true because the legislation provides for appointment of an attorney for the respondent before a continuing ERPO is ordered. The respondent is not required to surrender his or her firearms unless and until a continuing ERPO is ordered by a court. That hearing must be held within 14 days after the issuance of a temporary ERPO.
Rep. Jason Crowe was a friendly favorite with the crowd, happy to talk about issues.
Rep. Jason Crowe was asked about his position on Medicare for all. He believes all Americans should have health care insurance. He said he wants to stabilize the Affordable Care Act and finally negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies, something long overdue by the government. Then he wants to see Medicare expanded so that it is an available option for adults and children who are not covered by an employer’s health insurance plan. “The goal is to achieve coverage for all Americans,” he said.
Newly elected Rep. Deb Haaland, the first Native American woman elected to Congress was the keynote speaker. She was preceded by Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a frequent spokesman for the Democratic party on issues involving national security and President Trump. Schiff said,
“We need someone who’s trustworthy and has integrity in the Oval Office. We are at a perilous time in the history of our country.” Citing earlier statements from the White House about “alternative truth,” he said, “There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than a belief that there is no truth. We have a president who consider the press to be the enemy of the people.” Schiff said that despots around the world repeat and emulate that statement.
He continued, “It was a bitter realization that the greatest threat to our democracy did not come from the Russians but from our own government.” Schiff said that Trump alone is not responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. He blamed those who should know better and do more.
“When history is written it will reserve some of its most damning language for Republicans in Congress who enable [Trump]. The most important thing a congressman can do is not just get re-elected but do the right thing… Freedom loving people around the world look to us and do not recognize what they see.”
Schiff closed on a positive note. “There is every reason for us to be optimistic about our future. We will get through this. America’s flame still burns brightly.”
Affable Sen. Michael Bennett, in a tacit acknowledgement to friendly competition between Coloradans looking at the 2020 presidential race, offered “regards from Gov. Hickenlooper from the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport.”
Morgan Carroll was re-elected as state party chair for the next two years. Jena Griswold, the first Democrat elected secretary of state in 60 years, was recognized as Rising Star of the Year and gave a rousing speech to the party faithful. Rep. Joe Neguse was awarded the title Democrat of the Year. Speaker of the House K.C. Becker said she looked forward to passing oil and gas reform and common-sense gun regulation legislation. Sending their greetings to local residents were state Sen. Jeff Bridges and state Rep. Meg Froelich.
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