Democrats sweep Colorado: Polis, Neguse make history in 2018 midterms

Collegian Staff

Democrats are making their voices heard in Colorado.

The blue party swept the board in the general elections Tuesday night as party candidates won governor, attorney general and a slew of local races. Colorado’s new governor is Jared Polis, who won with 51.31 percent of the vote, and Colorado’s new representative for the House of Representatives 116th District is Joe Neguse, who won with 60.5 percent, according to Colorado’s Secretary of State.

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“(Polis has) done such a great job as our congressman and we look forward to having him as our governor,” said James Thompson, chairman of the Larimer County Democrats. “We worked really hard in Larimer County to get him elected. Certainly, Larimer County has a really big influence on statewide elections, so we’re happy for all the great work and all the volunteers did here in Larimer County to help get Jared Polis elected.”

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  • John Kefalas speaks to the crowd at the democratic watch party on Nov. 6, informally accepting the office of Larmier County Commissioner. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Joann Ginal speaks to the crowd at the democratic watch party on Nov. 6. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Crowd members at the democratic watch party listen to Jared Polis’ acceptance speech after he is elected governor. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Crowd members at the democratic watch party cheer as different seats in different office are awarded to democratic candidates. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • John Kefalas poses for a photo with a crowd member at the democratic watch party on Nov. 6. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Crowd members at the democratic watch party cheer as different seats in different office are awarded to democratic candidates. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

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Polis, the first openly gay and the first Jewish governor in Colorado history according to Colorado Politics, was projected to win throughout the night, according to MSNBC. Although Polis’s campaign was not focused on his sexuality, Democrat Pat Throgmorton, attendee at the Larimer County Democrats’ watch party, believes that his win will have an impact on the future.

“Colorado is not the important state by a long shot, but it is an important state during elections,” Throgmorton said. “And if we can have a governor like (Polis) for the next several years, I think even in the next election we’ll see even more people, gay people, everybody running for office.”

Polis’s win as the first openly gay governor goes alongside a nationwide trend of inclusivity, Thompson said, even though the current administration might not want to go in the same direction.

“But as Democrats, we want to make sure all voices are heard and all people are accepted, and I think this will be a great step forward,” Thompson said. “We’re going to keep to fight to be inclusive as a party, and we hope that everyone, democrats, republicans, unaffiliated voters everywhere will move in that direction.”

As of 11:30 p.m. Nov. 6:

State and National Races
Congressional District 2 Representative: Joe Neguse (D): 60.5 percent
State Governor: Jared Polis (D): 51.31 percent
State Attorney General: Phil Weiser (D): 49.4 percent
Secretary of State: Jena Griswold (D): 50.61 percent
State Treasurer: Dave Young (D): 50.36 percent

Larimer County Races
County Commissioner: John Kefalas (D): 54.04 percent
County Assessor: Bob Overbeck (D): 50.41 percent
County Clerk and Recorder: Angela Myers [R]: 59.55 percent
County Treasurer: Irene Josey [R]: 53.84 percent

Thompson said that Polis has always been working to engage with the younger demographic, and was amazed at how many young people got involved this midterms season, whether that was through voting or through Larimer County Campaign Corp, which encouraged people to go out to vote through phone calls and knocking on doors.

“He’s always been engaging as a congressman,” Thompson said. “I’ve seen him on campus engaging kids there, I’ve seen him engaging high school kids … who are prepared to vote and who will be voting. Future Governor Polis realizes that we need to get more young people involved, and the best way to do that is to go out there and meet them on their own turf.”

Local high school students were in attendance in hopes of understanding the effects on their futures. Junior Katherine Demaret and sophomore Ella Jensen were two such students from Rocky Mountain High School.

Current issues are part of what called the students to participate, Jensen said.

“It’s important for our generation and for the current people to initiate change,” Jensen said. “And I think that this will be making really great strides in education and mental health issues, which are both relevant to me and my life.”

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Demaret agreed, saying that this election will be affecting her generation’s lives and future.

“In this election, we’re deciding the face of America, who we’re going to be and what we’re going to stand for,” Demaret said.

On the opposite end of town, the Republican watch party saw a different future unfolding when it appeared that Polis would be their next governor. While disappointment was unavoidable, several looked across the aisle.

Melanie Calderwood, the vice chair of the Larimer County Republicans, said she still hopes for a lot of collaboration between the two parties.

“I’m hoping Jared Polis will keep Colorado efficient,” Calderwood said. “I’m also hoping to see a lot of bipartisan activity within the government.”

Veronica Morin, the president of College Republicans at Colorado State University, hopes Polis will not do as much with healthcare and oil regulations as he has said, but said she will support him.

“You always want to support who’s in office. You never want them to fail, because if they fail, that means bad things for the citizens of Colorado,” Morin said. “I’ll support our governor, and hope that he does the best job that he can. Ideally, as a Republican, I want to see them do as little as possible.”

Joe Neguse campaigns at Colorado State University. (Natalie Dyer | Collegian)

Another victory for the Larimer County Democrats came in the election of Neguse as the new representative for Colorado’s Congressional District 2. With Polis, Neguse also made history tonight by becoming the first African-American to be elected to Congress in Colorado.

Although he couldn’t attend the election watch party in Larimer County, he made a Skype call to the watch party and promised to visit often.

“Know that every day I will spend my career in Congress fighting for the people of Fort Collins,” Neguse said. “I will be back in Larimer County often, thank you all so much for your support.”

Students who’ve met with Neguse, such as Jensen and Demaret, have described him as an honest and genuine person.

“He’s been really empowering and great with reaching out to everyone,” Jensen said. “It’s clear that he’s an honest and hard-working man. He’s really cool and I know many others agree.”

Demaret said she respects how Neguse took the time to say hello to everyone in her group when she and other local high schoolers had the chance to meet him while helping the campaign. She said it means a lot that he has made a clear attempt to connect with other people.

Elyssa Hamilton with the Larimer County Democratic Campaign Corp, fondly referred to as the “girl gang” throughout the night, said the evening’s results filled those present with a wave of hope and motivation for the future. The youth, in particular, show great promise.

“This year we’ve seen many candidates that represent young people in many ways,” Hamilton said, referring to issues such as student loans, healthcare and affordable housing. “Colorado’s blue wave has encouraged us to step up into these important roles and to fulfill them as young people.”

Hamilton said that the surge of young voters during this year’s election proves that future generations will have the voice they need in politics and government.

“This was a year where the elections saw a surge of millennial voters. People who voted this year are likely to vote again,” Hamilton said. “These are the people who will have a voice in their government.”

Collegian reporters Julia Trowbridge, Charlotte Lang, Samantha Ye and Delaney Allen can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules, @chartrickwrites, @samxye4, @DelaneyAllen0.