Jerry Kopel

Upsets. They do happen at Democratic state conventions.

My first state convention was in 1952. A lot of other people present in 1952 were present 40, 50 years later. We know each other by the stooped walk and the curved back. You don't have to be an incumbent to attend state conventions...just a numb survivor.

Upsets? How about U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Lucero booming out: "Myyyyy nayymm iss Carrrlooos Luuucerrroooo." It is the only time I ever saw anyone switch votes to his side just by saying his name.

Floyd Haskell was losing delegates left and right to Tony Vollack in the battle for a U.S. Senate nomination, over Floyd's poor civil rights votes while a Republican member of the state legislature. I spoke a few words on Floyd's behalf and told the party members about all the good votes for consumers Haskell had cast as a state legislator. Haskell made the ballot in second place, won the primary and the November election and then lost six years later.

Gail Klapper's robot running around the floor. Cute? Whoever dreamed up that one cost Klapper top spot in the contest with Don Eberle for attorney general. Klapper beat Eberle in the primary, but lost to Duane Woodard in the general election.

Charlie Brannan vs. John Carroll for the U.S. Senate nomination. Charlie had the party organization behind him and won top spot. Carroll stayed in the hall after everyone else left, his sleeves rolled up, and he and daughter Diane went over the results from each county, figuring where he was weak. Carroll won the primary and the November election.

Mark Hogan vs. Marty Miller for lieutenant governor. At the time, the L.G. actually had a job presiding over the state senate. Weld County "political boss" Ken Monfort pulled his delegates off the floor, twisting arms until they voted nearly all for Hogan, who got top spot and won the primary and general election. (L.G. and governor were elected separately then.)

In 1968, State Rep. Ken Monfort defeated former governor Steve McNichols in the convention, but lost to McNichols in the U.S. Senate primary. Republican Sen. Peter Dominick went on to defeat McNichols in the general election.

In 1974, Democrats correctly believed they had the momentum and Colorado had five candidates for the U.S. Senate: Herrick Roth (the favorite), Gary Hart, Marty Miller, Mark Hogan and Joe Dolan. You couldn't turn around without running into one of the candidates. It was tough on me with five friends in the fray.

Joe Dolan was using "Joe" as his campaign slogan. There had been a popular movie by that name. But Dolan knew it was over and left before the votes had been counted. Mark Hogan, who had been the candidate for governor and the Golden Boy of Democratic politics just four years earlier, discovered he had very little support left.

Roth, Hart, and Miller made the ballot in that order, with Roth in a commanding lead. It turned out any one of them would have defeated Sen. Peter Dominick although no one at the time knew how ill Sen. Dominick was.

Herrick Roth, a supporter of campaign reform, insisted he would not accept any contribution larger than $19.74. That, and not the fact that he took stands on issues the others avoided, cost him the election. Hart and Miller made no such donation commitment. Hart raised and spent 40 percent more than Roth who lost by 13,000 votes and Miller lost by 25,000. Hart went on to beat Dominick in November with 60 percent of the vote.

Dottie Lamm vs. Gil Romero for the nomination to run against Sen. Ben Campbell. Lamm was the favorite but Romero turned the crowd his way with a dynamic speech about his coal miner dad. Lamm beat Romero in the primary and lost to Sen. Campbell in November.

What about 2004? Mike Miles made an impressive speech and beat Ken Salazar, 51 to 49 percent. Salazar is still the favorite to win the primary and defeat the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate. I expect Miles will join the Salazar campaign after the primary, putting him in good contention for a statewide elective position in 2006, and a shot at an open U.S. Senate seat in 2008 when Wayne Allard keeps his term limit promise (12 years and out).

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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