Denver Democrats are used to Primary Election evenings that are about as suspenseful as waiting to hear the name of the Broncos' starting quarterback, but this year is even quieter than most. The only real Primary race in Denver is in HD-2, where Alec Garnett and Owen Perkins are running to succeed the term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.
Most Denver races are decided in a Primary because of the overwhelming voter advantage for Democrats, and once someone gets elected for the first time, they tend to go unchallenged as long as they don't make any unusual mistakes. Since a Republican has virtually no chance to pull a General Election upset, any aspiring candidates in Denver must bide their time until term limits re-open the field. In cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs (the latter being overwhelmingly Republican), it has become something of a paradox that it often takes more time and effort to win a Primary even though you are courting a significantly smaller number of likely voters. For example, candidates have been actively campaigningin HD-2 for more than a year; this is quite a contrast to a more competitive House District such as Lakewood's HD-23, where Republicans have only had a candidate in place for a few weeks. This happens, of course, because more candidates are realizing that consolidating support early can leave your opponent few places to turn once the ballots finally start to drop. Call it the Perception Primary — the campaign inside the campaign.
There is a great example of this happening in HD-2, where Garnett has run an exceptional race thus far. Garnett faces Perkins in a two-person race that narrowed when Aaron Silverstein failed to make the ballot threshold requirement through the caucus process. To date, Garnett has been the most proficient fundraiser of any State House candidate in Colorado, and he has deftly maneuvered to pick up critical endorsements at key points in the race (including Rep. Ferrandino's endorsement in February). Last week, Garnett announced the support of former Gov. Bill Ritter and current State Rep. Daniel Kagan, two excellent endorsements to add to your list just before ballots begin to go in the mail.
Weird things can, and do, happen in Primary Elections, so there's no guarantee that Garnett's efforts will be rewarded when ballots are counted. But if you were a betting man (or woman), you'd have trouble finding a candidate with stronger odds next month.