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Report: Colorado Democrats Want A Favorite Son - But Not Hart

December 27, 1987

DENVER (AP) _ Gary Hart’s re-entry into the presidential race has prompted Colorado Democratic leaders to consider drafting Gov. Roy Romer as a favorite-son candidate for the national convention, The Denver Post reported Sunday.

Party sources told The Post that the strategy would allow some Democrats to duck the question of whether they support Hart. Additionally, a delegation not committed to one of the major candidates would have more clout at a convention where no single contender has overwhelming support.

″At the beginning of the year, Gary Hart could have been president. Now Gary Hart cannot be president and people are saying, ’My God, I don’t want to get involved in anyone’s race,″ said Polly Baca, an Adams County Democrat and vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Hart was a front-runner for the five weeks he was in the campaign last spring. He quit the race May 8 after reports surfaced about his relationship with Donna Rice of Miami. Hart re-entered the race earlier this month.

Discussions about putting Romer in as a favorite son candidate surfaced in September after U.S. Rep. Patricia Schroeder decided against seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

After Hart jumped into the race again, the discussions were renewed, Baca told The Post.

″It’s my feeling that Gary is not doing us much good,″ said Robert Traylor, a Grand Junction lawyer and chairman of the Mesa County Democratic Party.

The state’s Democratic congressional delegation has been non-committal about Hart’s candidacy.

Schroeder, who was one of Hart’s two national directors in the original 1988 campaign, has declined public comment since Hart’s re-entry on Dec. 15.

And the lingering $1.1 million debt from the 1984 presidential bid continues to rankle many. Much of Hart’s original $4 million debt from that campaign was paid off for as little as 20 cents to 40 cents on the dollar.

Stuart McMichael of Custom Print Inc. of Arlington, Va., who is owed $33,000, told the Rocky Mountain News in Sunday’s editions that he and other printers owed money are considering taking out ads in Washington, D.C., and New York daily newspapers to protest Hart’s handling of the debt.

Sue Casey, a spokeswoman for Hart’s renewed campaign, said the former Colorado senator intends to pay the debts.

″Gary is hopeful that if this campaign is successful, it will be a lot easier for us to raise that money and pay the debt,″ Casey said.

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