Denver attorney Dan Himelspach, a candidate to represent House District 6, on Tuesday became the first Democrat to turn in petitions for a spot in what's shaping up to be a crowded primary.
So far, six Democrats are running for the southeast Denver seat, which was filled earlier this month by a party vacancy committee following then-state Rep. Chris Hansen's appointment to the state Senate.
“Today, we showed the political climbers and career politicians what a true grassroots campaign looks like,” Himelspach, a mediation attorney and professional negotiator, said in a statement.
“Through rain and snow, I was with our team nearly every day knocking on doors, meeting with voters, and listening to their concerns — I am the only candidate in this race that can say that and that’s why we are going to win."
A Himelspach spokesman said the campaign planned to submit 1,800 signatures, mostly gathered by going door-to-door in the district. It takes 1,000 valid signatures from fellow party members for legislative candidates to qualify for the ballot.
Added Himelspach: “Since day one, this campaign has been about strengthening the Democratic Party and ensuring voters have someone who will listen and represent them. We’ve successfully harnessed that energy and that’s why we were able to collect the required signatures so quickly."
Himelspach had applied for the vacancy but withdrew days before the election, saying he would instead run for the seat in the primary. Pointing to a report showing Colorado leads the country in legislators who first won their seats by appointment rather than election, he said the trend threatens to "undermine voter participation" in a crucial election year.
Hansen was elevated to the Senate in an earlier vacancy election to complete the term of former state Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, who resigned in January due to health reasons.
Woodrow and four other Democrats are circulating petitions for the June 30 primary. The others are Nathan Adams, Hazel Gibson, Robert Messman and Steven Paletz. Gibson and Messman were among the applicants for the vacancy appointment.
A voter can only sign one candidate's petition for the same office, so none of the voters whose signatures collected by Himelspach are ruled valid can be counted on any of his primary rivals' petitions.
Candidates can also get a berth in the primary by winning the support of at least 30% of delegates to the district assembly, a process that starts at precinct caucuses on March 7.