It’s just over six months until Colorado holds its June 2020 Senate primary, and the outcome will determine who snags the Democratic nomination against Cory Gardner in November.
Grassroots groups, like those aligned with the Indivisible movement, have surged across the country, creating thousands of chapters run by volunteers broadly focused on resistance to the policies of the Trump administration. A group I’m involved with, Indivisible Front Range Resistance, is one such example. We are door knockers, postcard writers, phone bankers, community meeting arrangers, donors, voters and organizers who helped deliver unprecedented Democratic victories in 2018.
The Herald reported last week that some environmental groups have waded into the endorsement process (“Our view: The primary fight against Hickenlooper smolders,” Nov. 25). IFRR has not, and I encourage primary voters to consider the multiple intersecting priorities that are important in this race, as well as the stakes of not wresting this seat away from Sen. Cory Gardner.
We have a primary with a welcome demographic mix of candidates – including two women of color – and voters should do them the favor of researching their platforms to see who is best positioned to defend and advance progressive values. Ignore “viability” talk, often coded language for who people believe is most traditionally likely to win. “Electability” is a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to further marginalization and erasure of candidates with lesser name recognition. Voters should research all the candidates in this race, beyond just those who have had the advantage of profiles and headlines.
In the face of our nation’s alarming slide into corruption and white nationalist authoritarianism, I ask you to uplift those candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to fight this, like hell, through every policy in their platform. Find your candidate, get them their primary votes.
In June, we vote our values. After June, we face a general election in which it is absolutely imperative to unseat Gardner. Challenge anyone who says that any of the Democratic candidates are “the same” as Gardner. These patently false equivalencies only serve to depress turnout and maintain the status quo, which favors the incumbent.
The stakes could not be higher. The senator who takes this seat in 2021 must:
Take wide and aggressive measures to combat climate change and alleviate the environmental damage resulting from unrestrained corporations and deregulation on our most vulnerable populations. This includes supporting policies to move Colorado away from excavation of oil and gas.Swiftly and proactively reunite immigrant families and protect communities from ICE overreach. This includes helping those forced into sanctuary to remain with their families and in their homes.Protect and expand voting rights and dismantle voter suppression efforts.Dismantle and rebuild our criminal justice system – from policing to courts – that disproportionately puts families of color at risk. Address over-policing and over-sentencing in communities of color.Address gun violence through bold and comprehensive legislation.Appoint judges who embody the principles of justice, equity and fairness, and whose demographics reflect the true diversity of our country.Support unions and other organizations that grow the power of working people versus big monied interests.Fully fund public schools, and pay teachers what they are worth. Listen to the voices of those who are most directly impacted by cuts and loss of access to quality public education. Act as a check on the segregational impacts of charter schools.Believe sexual assault survivors, no matter which political party the perpetrator hails from.Protect and expand comprehensive, affordable health care access for all – and a woman’s right to choose – as human rights. Be a steadfast ally to marginalized populations, and champion the causes of communities of color and difference that are underrepresented in government at this time: LGBTQ people; black, indigenous, and other people of color; people with disabilities; people experiencing homelessness or unstable housing; people with undocumented status.Pursue campaign finance reform and public funding for campaigns. Let the public speak loudest, not corporate special interests. Vote for judges who will end Citizens United.Protect our active, engaged and participatory democracy. Commit to regularly scheduled and open forums with the public, engaging with as many constituents from across the state as possible. The Democratic field of candidates is already stepping up to these tremendously consequential challenges. Go find your candidate and fight with them.
After the primary, no matter who the nominee is, join us at their doorstep to ensure that these values stay front and center, because democracy doesn’t end with elections.
But, let’s be clear: Cory Gardner will prioritize none of these things, and those are the stakes.
Katie Farnan is a full-time working mom of two and a lead organizer with Indivisible Front Range Resistance. She lives in Boulder.