Ex-treasurer Kennedy tops non-binding Colorado caucus vote
DENVER (AP) — 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.