Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Tuesday announced endorsements from 14 leading Colorado progressives, including current and former state legislators, a pair of Democratic National Committee members and activists behind a local left-leaning group whose national organization is backing a Sanders rival.
Two of the endorsements are from Democratic politicians Sanders endorsed in last year's elections — state Rep. Emily Sirota of Denver, who unseated an incumbent in a primary, and former state Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton, the executive director of the anti-fracking group Colorado Rising, who narrowly lost the attorney general primary.
"I endorse Bernie Sanders because we are not talking about a Democrat who plays Progressive. He is a Progressive who works with Democrats," said Salazar, who was among Sanders' earliest high-profile Colorado supporters in 2016, when the Vermont senator dominated the state's caucuses.
Eight of the endorsers are involved with the Colorado Working Families Party, including co-founder Mike McCorkle and state committee member Jeri Shepherd, who won her seat on the DNC in 2016 as part of a Sanders slate. The National Working Families Party last month threw its support for the Democratic nomination behind U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has been vying with Sanders for support from the party's left wing.
In a statement, Shepherd said she supports Sanders "because, with him, we are building a movement, not just supporting a campaign. His leadership style coupled with the fierce advocacy of his ideals will serve to revitalize our communities, our country, and our planet. We cannot afford to wait to save the world from those who would bankrupt it for their own greed."
For the first time in decades, Colorado will hold a presidential primary in 2020 rather than select presidential nominating delegates at caucuses and conventions. Colorado's primary falls on Super Tuesday, March 3, when at least 14 other states will also be voting.
According to the most recent Democratic primary poll of Colorado voters, Sanders — who won Colorado's 2016 caucuses by a 19 percentage point margin over eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — holds a 1 percentage point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, 26 percent to 25 percent, with Warren in third place at 20 percent.
The Sanders campaign also announced endorsements Tuesday from former state Rep. Mike Merrifield, another prominent 2016 Sanders endorser, as well as former Denver City Councilman Rafael Espinoza, DNC member Terry Tucker, Colorado Working Families Party members Sarah Morgan, Kayla Smith, Ashlyn Velasquez, Cleo Dioletis, Dana Manning and Laurie Roberts.
Kristofer Dubbels, a co-founder of the Denver Democratic Socialists of America, is also among the Sanders endorsers.
Sanders is facing Colorado's U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
On Sept. 9, Sirota and Salazar introduced Sanders at a rally that attracted about 10,000 people at Denver's Civic Center.