Former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm said Wednesday he was pleased that Denver voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 302, which requires that any future bid for a Winter Olympics must first be subject to a public vote.
Final unofficial results posted on Wednesday showed the measure won with 79.3% voting yes and 20.7% voting no.
“I think we were all pleased but rather shocked at the margin of victory,” Lamm said in an interview with Colorado Politics.
As a young state lawmaker in 1972, Lamm led the effort to resist staging the 1976 Winter Olympics in Colorado after Denver bid on and won the games. Voters rejected spending public money on the project and the Olympics were relocated to Innsbruck, Austria.
It was the only time in modern Olympics history that a location that had been awarded the games later rejected them.
When he was asked to lend his support to Initiative 302, Lamm said he response was almost “visceral.”
“I was on the legislative audit committee back in the 1970s,” he recalled. “And that’s when I started evaluating the pros and cons of the Olympics.”
"We fought it back in those days in 1972. The voters made a decision and I was convinced it was the right one.”
He noted there have been Olympics since then like the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics that did not lose money.
"But generally, I feel that these are … high risk, high cost endeavors,” he said. “And so, when this time came around. I just naturally got back in the trenches.”
Lamm stressed that he did not wish to take “undue credit” for the success of Initiative 302. He said a much younger group of activists took the lead this time and deserved the credit.
But I-302 campaign manager Owen Perkins noted that Lamm was one of the five people on the committee that petitioned to place the referendum on the ballot.
Perkins said Lamm also served on the group’s steering committee and hosted a fundraiser for the effort at his home.
“He was instrumental in galvanizing support for the initiative,” Perkins said.