Hickenlooper, Duran, Guzman among honorees at Colorado Democrats' inaugural Obama Dinner


Three newcomers to Aurora’s nonpartisan city council will be honored with the Rising Star Award by the Colorado Democratic Party at its inaugural Obama Dinner on Feb. 3 in Denver, the party announced.

State party chair Morgan Carroll also plans to give the Chair’s Service Award to three term-limited state officials — Gov. John Hickenlooper, House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, all Denver Democrats.

“We are honored to have such dedicated Democrats fighting every day to ensure that all Coloradans have a fair shot and opportunities to succeed,” Carroll said in a statement.

Democrats will be handing out a bevy of awards at the party’s signature fundraising dinner, known as the Annual Dinner for the past two years after party officials decided to stop calling it the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner because both its presidential namesakes owned slaves and one orchestrated a Native American genocide.

This year’s honorees include Rising Star Award winners Crystal Murillo, Nicole Johnston and Allison Hiltz, who all won election in November to the Aurora City Council; Democrat of the Year Catherine Carson, chair of the Routt County Democrats; Volunteer of the Year Meike Babel; and Rio Grande County Democratic Party Chair Jesse Guerrero and Washington County Democratic Party Chair Nancy O’Dell, recipients of the new Rural Outreach Award.

The Obama Dinner will be preceded this year by a forum for statewide Democratic candidates. It’s set for Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Hilton Denver City Center, formerly known as the Marriott Denver City Center, in downtown Denver. Tickets start at $150, and tables can run as high as $10,000.

Party officials haven’t announced the dinner’s keynote speaker. Last year’s headliner was Jason Kander, a former Missouri secretary of state and U.S. Senate candidate. Recent dinners have featured Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — they each spoke at the 2016 dinner, which took place just days before Colorado’s precinct caucuses — and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, although when he spoke he hadn’t yet been elected to the Senate.

Last year’s honorees were state Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, who won the Rising Star Award; U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Democrat of the Year; Ted Fritschel of Arapahoe County, Volunteer of the Year; and Euell Santistevan, Jr., of Jefferson County and Taryn Sebba of Larimer County, who were named the Murphy Roberts Young Volunteers of the Year. Outgoing state chair Rick Palacio gave the Chair’s Service Award to Anne Wilseck, the party’s executive director, and longtime Democratic National Committee member Blanca O’Leary.


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