A Democratic committee of 162 members will meet on Thursday night to fill the southeast Denver-based Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Lois Court two weeks into the legislative session.
“This was really done quickly because we are in session and we are working hard to get the position filled,” said vacancy committee organizer Rita Simas. “If it wasn’t during the session, we would probably spend more like 30 days to do this.”
Court, who previously announced she would not run for a second term in 2020, disclosed that she would resign effective Jan. 16. She has Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare — and in Court’s case, severe — autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system.
Registration for committee members will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Christ Church United Methodist, 690 Colorado Boulevard. The meeting will start at 6.
Simas said that 94% of the electors are from Denver County. The remainder lives in the Arapahoe County portion of the district. Electors include Democratic Party members, elected officials in the district, designees for county party officers and three “bonus members,” according to Simas. She added that the rules allow for bonus members based on election turnout.
Although nominations from the floor will be allowed, five candidates have already declared their interest to the committee, and their names will be the only ones printed on the ballot.
Those candidates are Chris Hansen, Robert Messman, Olivia Miller, Maria Orms and W. Douglas Williams. Colorado Politics sent questionnaires to all five candidates and will publish their responses on Thursday.
A sixth candidate, Michael G. Sawaya of the Sawaya Law firm, announced on Facebook last week that he was seeking to only fill Court’s unexpired term. However, on Wednesday morning, he told Colorado Politics that he had withdrawn.
“I thought that what the district needed was a person who would fill out her term and let the people decide who the next senator would be, and not give it the imprimatur of the sanctioned party,” he said. "But that’s not the way most of the precinct committee people see it. I think it shows a weakness in the party apparatus.”
Editor's note: After publication, the committee organizers updated the start time, which is reflected in the story.