29 February 2012

Democrats In Denver Have Precinct Caucuses On March 6, 2012

Didn't that already happen? No.

Colorado Republicans have a Presidential race caucus earlier this February, but the plain vanilla, choose precinct committee people, propose party platform plank, start the process of nominating partisan candidates for political office caucuses for Democrats in Denver, at least, will be held on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, with sign in starting at 6:30 p.m. and the precinct caucuses themselves beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Honestly, for Democrats in Denver, this year's caucus process is going to be more about networking than exercising the power that comes from showing up.

The only serious intraparty nomination fight in 2012 for Democrats in Denver this primary season is likely to involve the people who want to be Denver's next District Attorney. I don't know at this time who is even in the running, although I'm sure I'll learn more at the caucus on Tuesday. There is also an open seat in House District 9 since Joe Miklosi is running for Congress, with Rosenthal fetted as the strongest of the two identified candidates seeking the Democratic party nomination in that race.

For that matter, the only interesting general election partisan candidate races that Denver voters are likely to consider in 2012 are the races for the U.S. President and University of Colorado Regent At Large, for which the Democrats will running the incumbents in both cases, and the race for the open position of Denver District Attorney, which could conceivably give rise to a meaningful partisan contest in Denver if Republicans run a credible moderate candidate for the post.

So, unless you have stong feelings about who should be our next district attorney or want to get your foot in the door of Denver's Democratic Party machine as a precinct committee person (who also has a say in any vacancy committee elections for a candidate who represents their precinct that are held over the next two years), you can be excuses for skipping the caucuses, and even the primary election this year in Denver. Just please, show up to the polls in November.

Local Offices In Denver

As usual, most of the local offices that appear before Denver voters are non-partisan, and as a result, Denver's political parties aren't involved in the nomination process for any of these offices and there are no primary elections for these races.

In Denver, we have a non-partisan Mayor, Auditor, Clerk and Recorder, and City Council, all of who are elected in odd number years with first round elections held in the spring. Regional Transporation District (RTD) directorship elections and Denver School Board elections are held in November, but are also non-partisan.

Judicial retention elections held in November (in which voters are asked to "retain" or "not retain" a long list of sitting judges who were appointed based on reviews compiled by a state agency) are non-partisan.

There is a partisan election for District Attorney (officially a state government position, but elected by voters from local judicial district and funded by the counties in the judicial district) in Denver this year in which the political parties are involved in nominating and supporting candidates. The incumbent in Denver's Second Judicial District (which includes all of the City and County of Denver and no other territory) is Democrat Mitch Morrissey, who was first elected in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008. Colorado has the somewhat odd process of letting voters in each of the twenty-two judicial districts (most have multiple counties) each set their own term limits. As of August 2011, six Colorado judicial districts had extended the term limit for District Attorneys to three terms rather than the default of two terms, and the judicial district that includes the City of Pueblo had abolished term limits for District Attorneys all together.

To the best of my knowledge, Denver is not among the judicial districts that have increased term limits for the District Attorney (although it is surprisingly hard to easily find a list of those term limits in one place), so Morrissey cannot run for re-election in 2012. This leaves an open race for this powerful post that could lead to the most interesting non-Presidential political race in Denver this year. It is also probably the only partisan race in Denver in which the Republicans, if the were to offer up a suitably qualified and moderate candidate, would have any real shot at winning, because it is an executive branch position where the person running matters more than their political party.

Federal Offices

Obviously, the big event this year will be the Presidential election. But, on the Democratic side, President Obama is uncontested and the Republicans in Colorado have already had their say in the Presidential primary and caucus process this year and have to wait until the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August to have either Romney or Santorum annointed as their nominee and to select a Vice Presidential running mate. President Obama could choose a new Vice President at the Democratic National Convention this summer, or could keep Joe Biden, but Democratic party voters will have essentially no input on that decision.

Each state has two Senators who each serve six year terms. Thus, each state goes without an election for U.S. Senator every six years. In Colorado, 2012 is the cycle we get a break of U.S. Senate races.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives face re-election every two years in partisan, single member district races and this year will be the first year that Colorado's seven member delegation is selected from new Congressional districts based on the 2010 Census. In some races, like the 6th Congressional District race where incumbent Republican Mike Coffman will have a much more politically moderate district that he has had in previous elections that Democrats Joe Milklosi (the incumbent state representative from House District 9) and Perry Haney are facing off in the causus and primary process for the privilege of fighting him starting Tuesday, it could be very exciting indeed. But, in Denver, where many term incumbent Diana DeGette's 1st Congressional District remains a predominantly Denver based district that is safely Democratic, neither a primary challenger nor a serious general election challenger has emerged.

U.S. Representaties and U.S. Senators, of course, are not subject to term limits, despite the unconstitutional efforts of Colorado voters to impose them on its delegation.

State Government

Elections for state level executive branch posts: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer are held in even numbered years when there aren't Presidential elections, so none of those posts are up for consideration.

There are a few state and local partisan positions that will be on the ballot in Denver in 2012, and there will be a bit of confusion as voters find themselves in newly drawn districts for various political offices. Also, all partisan state and local offices in Colorado have some kind of term limits.

All state representatives face partisan elections every two years and this will be their first elections with redrawn state house districts. Roughly half of the members of the state senate face re-election every two years to four year terms. In each case, there are eight year term limits, so there is often a fair amount of term limit induced turnover even in districts that are safe for one political party or the other.

None of incumbents state representatives from the nine house districts that were at least partially in Denver in 2010, all of whom are Democrats, are term limited this year, so there is every reason to expect that all of the nine, except Joe Miklosi, will run again, and will not face any serious challengers in the caucus process or at a primary this summer, and will for the most part, cruise to comfortable re-election in the general election in November from their generally fairly safe Democratic party leaning districts. Joe Miklosi's seat in House District 9, discussed above, has attracted two announced contenders so far, so this race will be a rare intraparty contest for Democrats this year.

The state senate situation is a bit more complicated. There were five state senate districts with significant portions in Denver, each with a Democrat as an incumbent, prior to redistricting: Senate Districts 31 (Pat Steadman), 32 (Irene Aguilar), 33 (Michael Johnston), 34 (Lucia Guzman) and 35 (Joyce Foster). Three of these are on the Presidential election year cycle: Senate Districts 31, 33 and 35, while Senate Districts 32 and 34 have their next elections in 2014. None of these five incumbents will be barred from running again at the next election. But, each of them represent a somewhat different district than the one in which they took office. Steadman, Johnston and Foster are all likely to seek re-election this year unopposed and are reasonably safe in the general election.

Each of the seven seats on the partisan Colorado Board of Education is identical to the corresponding newly drawn congressional districts. These seats filled for staggered six year terms with only some districts holding elections each two years. In 2012, voters in the First Congressional District, which is made up predominantly of Denver, won't have a Colorado School Board election. Denver's incumbent in the posts, Democrat Elaine Berman's seat isn't before voters until 2014. Term limits for the Colorado School Board are twelve years.

Seven of the nine seats on the elected from Congressional districts on the partisan University of Colorado Board of Regents, with the other two spots are "at large", and they serve for staggered six year terms. All Colorado voter will cast ballots for the at large position currently held by Democrat Stephen Ludwig. But, the next election for the 1st Congressional District CU Regent spot held by Michael Carrigan isn't until 2016. Term limits for the University of Colorado Regents are twelve years. Ludgwig won his first six year term in 2006 and there is ever reason to expect that he will be uncontested within the Democratic party in a bid to seek re-election.


andrew said...

Updates: There is a primary contest in HD-1.

The Republican caucus is on different day than the Democratic one, but all Democrats statewide have the same precinct caucus day.

There are no pending ballot initiative at the City and County of Denver level at this time.

I still can't find anything to confirm the term limit status for the Denver DA or the candidates if Morrissey is indeed termed as he seems to be.

andrew said...

Update: Apparently Mitch Morrissey is not termed and is running for re-election, likely unopposed, in 2012. His campaign website is here and his campaign facebook page is here. Presumably this means that DAs in Denver can run for three rather than two terms, although I don't know when this happened without doing more research.