Q&A with Andrew Romanoff: US Senate candidate says Hickenlooper won’t change the game plan
Andrew Romanoff is a Democrat who’s running for U.S. Senate in Colorado in 2020, and he lays out his priorities, endorsements and a host of other information on his campaign website, AndrewRomanoff.com.
In a trip to Grand County this week, Romanoff stopped by the Sky-Hi News to answer a few questions about the county, the race for Congress and the possibility former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper might enter the fray, which he did on Thursday.
Sky-Hi News: What brings you to Grand County and how has your trip been so far?
AR: It’s spectacular obviously, like every time I come here. It’s not my first trip to Grand County and it won’t be my last. I got invited by some of the local Democrats to speak at an event (Monday night) and then we did a series of events yesterday in Granby, Fraser and Grand Lake.
I think my only regret is when you’re running for office, you don’t have much time to enjoy the other parts of life. Someone told me running for office is a labor of love, except for the love part … I’m not complaining. It’s just, I think, days like this, it might be nice to actually get outside.
SHN: Especially on the campaign trail, I can imagine you’re probably staying pretty busy even though the primary is a little less than a year ahead.
AR: Yeah, it’s about 10 months and 11 days away if you’re counting, which I am. It’s a long road and the campaign is all consuming. I’m trying to meet as many voters as possible. I’m trying to run the kind of campaign that reflects the kind of legislator I was, the kind of senator I hope to be, and to be blunt the kind of senator that Cory Gardner is not.
We’re trying to be as transparent, accountable, responsive as possible, hold as many public events as possible, post them all online so anybody can come, and the opposition does… The opposition has hired a guy to follow me around the state with a video camera… I asked him what do you hope to get out of all these shots and he said, because the camera was rolling, ‘Well, we’re just waiting for you to say something you regret.’”
So, that’s the game. If you are open and honest, and meet your constituents, and answer their questions, and act like I believe a public servant should — remember who’s paying your salary when you serve in office; I’m not yet — then you put yourself at risk of a gaffe. If you take the other approach, and you just hide out, and refuse to answer anything, and say nothing, and try to run out the clock in this campaign, then I guess you’re better protected from that kind of exposure, but that’s a heckuva way to serve in public office.
SHN: You’ve won four terms to the Colorado House of Representatives, two as speaker, but more recently you lost the 2010 Senate primary to Michael Bennet and the 2014 race for U.S. House to Mike Coffman. What makes you think this bid for U.S. Senate is going to turn out differently?
AR: Well, Cory is not named Mike. Look, I’ll give you a serious answer. Most people will tell you politics is about timing. I was proud to win the first races and proud to win two terms as speaker of the House, as you said. At the end of the day, voters are going to have to decide whether they like the direction Washington is going or not.
I served with Cory Gardner in the state House for four years. I got to know him and to like him as a person … I’m not going to attack his character … but I think his record is fair game … I guess the other thing I’d say is one of the things I’d like to do in the course of this campaign is give voters not just something to shoot at but something to shoot for… How do you build a clean-energy economy? How do you make it possible for everybody in America to get health care they can afford? How do you create the single finest system of public education on the planet? How do you reform our immigration system? We have a lot of issues we’re talking about that reflect the voters’ priorities.
SHN: How do you distinguish yourself from the other candidates in the race?
AR: That’s a fair question. I bring to this race a record of legislative leadership that distinguishes me from the other candidates. I led the Democrats in Colorado to our first majority in 30 years, our first back-to-back majority since the 1960s and got recognized along the way as the best legislative leader in America.
My campaign and I bring a broader base of grassroots support. We don’t take money from special interest groups, but we’ve got more individuals chipping in — 90% of them from Colorado — than any other campaign … I think the last thing I’d say is I’ve laid out online and in conversations with voters across the state a much more aggressive agenda on issues that matter. Specifically at the top of the list (are) the climate crisis and health care reform because these are literally life and death struggles.
Maybe once upon a time in America, if we had taken action, say on the climate crisis 20 years ago, we could afford incremental reform now. But we didn’t do that then and we can’t now.
SHN: What other issues do you think will resonate the loudest with Grand County voters?
AR: We’ve had a conversation here in Grand County over the last day or two about the cost of health care because you’re paying higher premiums specifically here than other parts of the state, and the Western Slope generally is paying higher premiums than the rest of the country, as you know.
I spent the last four years running a mental health organization… and I found families, especially in the Western Slope, who wondered why they were paying for health coverage when they couldn’t find a provider who would take it… high on the list of domestic priorities.
SHN: What should Grand County voters know about you before they go to the ballot?
AR: That I’m willing to stand up to my own party. I’m a Democrat. I was raised that way, but I’ve never thought that my party was always right and the other party was always wrong. I think that attitude is arrogant and it accounts for some of the paralysis we see in Washington… It brings me no joy to reach that conclusion because the problems we face as a country are too big for one party to solve on its own so we need two functioning political parties in America again.
SHN: How will former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper change the complexion of this race if he decides to jump into it?
AR: You know, somebody once told me there are two kinds of politicians in the world — those who want to be somebody and those who want to do something. I’m running for the U.S. Senate not for the glory or the groupies — I’m still holding out for that — but to get some things done.
There are going to be another hundred candidates who enter the race between now and next June, and it’s not going to change my thinking or my approach because I feel like — and politics doesn’t reward modesty — but I feel like I’m the best qualified person to represent this state in that capacity, and I will bring to this job both a set of legislative skills and sense of urgency that I think is missing.
I’ve talked to my team about this. I don’t see where (Hickenlooper) changes our game plan. I will tell you, at my advancing age, I’ve decided to focus on the things I can control, and John is not one of them so we’ve got a game plan and that’s what we’re going to follow.
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