Ian Silverii, the House Democrats’ former chief of staff, took over as executive director of left-leaning online advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado on Wednesday, the organization announced.
“I care deeply about the kind of policies we make on the state level,” Silverii told The Colorado Statesman. “With Congress being deadlocked for a decade, it’s fallen on the states to advance different types of policy agendas. I’ve been extremely proud to be a part of a very progressive policy agenda for the state of Colorado,” he said, listing election procedure bills, gun-control legislation and the state’s renewable fuel standard as among the issues he’s helped advance.
“Working in the Legislature gives me an appreciation how electing the right people — and, more importantly, not electing the wrong people — can have real consequences on your day-to-day life,” Silverii said. “It’s important to me that organizations like ProgressNow exist to push the envelope and make sure extreme politicians who are trying to take our state backward are held accountable.”
“As Colorado’s first line of defense against radical political extremism, and as the state’s largest progressive rapid response team, we’re very excited to get to work with Ian Silverii,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin in a statement.
Before taking the lead staff position with Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Gunbarrel, and the Democratic majority in the House, Silverii ran the party’s House Majority Project, an operation tasked with electing Democrats to the chamber. During his tenure in the 2014 election cycle as executive director — he was deputy director for the 2010 and 2012 elections — Democrats kept their House majority while Republicans took over the Colorado Senate by one seat.
Silverii fills a position that has been vacant since January, when former executive director Amy Runyon-Harms left to be director of programs for the Gill Foundation. He’s engaged to marry state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood.
Founded in 2003, ProgressNow Colorado — the organization added “Colorado” to its name after going national and setting up operations in other states — attempts to leverage social media and digital communication to advance a progressive agenda, according to its website.
The organization has been in the news recently after its researchers discovered a potentially fraudulent signature among those submitted by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on his nominating petitions. Subsequent investigation by Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger unearthed additional signatures allegedly forged by a circulator hired by Keyser’s campaign, and the story has stayed in the headlines for weeks.
Silverii said he was still getting acquainted with the organization and his position on Wednesday but outlined what he called two goals for the group.
“Our goals are to promote a progressive policy agenda for the state of Colorado, and to create a model for the nation. We are a laboratory, we are a test ground,” he said, noting that Colorado has been the first state to enact a number of progressive polices, including a universal mail ballot and legalized marijuana.
“And we hold the right accountable when they go off the deep end,” Silverii said. “There is no better time to be a progressive communicator maybe in the history of the country than when Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for president,” he said with a laugh. “It gives us a huge opportunity to draw contrasts with progressives and whatever Donald Trump is — he’s not a conservative, but whatever he is.”
Silverii contended that Trump’s candidacy and his trademark denunciation of political correctness is encouraging the “true colors” of his more right-wing supporters to emerge.
“I think it’s terrifying, but it also gives us an opportunity to draw a stark contrast between people who want to take us forward and people who want to take us backward.”