Romanoff beats Bennet at State Assembly

Colorado Democratic Party State Assembly results:
BENNET 39.6%

The following is the text of Andrew Romanoff’s speech before the Colorado Democratic Party State Assembly:

Andrew Romanoff at Colorado State Assembly - May 2010. Photo from Romanoff for Colorado

Thank you for that warm welcome, and thank you to Polly and Mary Beth for your nomination.

I want to begin where I began, by thanking my mother, who is here today.  Everything I am and hope to be, I owe to her more than anyone in the world.

I am lucky to have the love and support of my Uncle Bill and my Aunt Susie and my cousins Melissa and Mac, who are all here as well.

I wish that my grandparents could be with us today.  My grandmother Rose was my secret weapon.  She came to the state convention in Pueblo 14 years ago to help me get elected to the Democratic National Committee.  She sat just inside the front entrance to the convention hall.

She wore a name tag that said “Andrew’s Nana.”  She used her cane to pull people towards her with one hand, and then slapped a “Romanoff” sticker on them with the other.

Nana would be proud to see so many Romanoff stickers on display here today.  I’m just glad that we didn’t have to cane anyone into wearing them.

Whatever sticker you’re backing today, let’s make sure we’re all on the same team by August 11.  That is my pledge.  I respect my opponent.  I will support him if he wins our party’s nomination.  And I will ask you to do the same.

But with all due respect, let me also say this: This Senate seat doesn’t belong to him any more than it belongs to me.  This seat belongs to the people of Colorado.  It belongs to you.

If you give me this nomination, I promise you this: I will never forget where I come from or who I’m fighting for.

Too many politicians become so easily seduced by the lobbyists who line their pockets and whisper in their ears that they can’t remember why they sought office in the first place.  That is a mistake I will not make.

My campaign and my career are rooted in the people of Colorado.  That’s why I fought for kids in the San Luis Valley and the Arkansas Valley and the Eastern Plains, so that they could go to school in buildings where the roof wasn’t caving in and the floorboards weren’t rotting.

That’s why I fought for people with mental illness, so that their diseases wouldn’t condemn them to the shadows of an underpass or a prison cell or an early grave.

That’s why I fought for the victims of domestic violence, so that they wouldn’t have to forfeit their jobs or spend every night in hiding, in fear of a predator who might find out where they lived.

I know how to fight when the odds are against you, and I know how to win:

  • We took the House when nobody thought we could, and we kept it – twice – after the pundits said it was a fluke.
  • We took on a deep recession and passed an Economic Recovery Plan called Referendum C, so that the doors of college would remain open to students of modest means.
  • We took on the insurance industry and cracked down on companies that refused to honor their customers’ claims.
  • We took on the Bush Administration to stop toxic polluters from poisoning our air and our water.
  • We took on the far right and stood up for equality so that citizens would be judged not by the color of their skin or by the love of their life but by the content of their character.

I am proud of the leadership I brought to the Statehouse.  I am proud to have been recognized as the most effective legislative leader in America.  And I am especially grateful for the progress that you made possible.  Thousands of Coloradans who may never learn your name – or mine – are better off today because of the work we did.

But the challenges we face now are too broad and too deep for a state to solve on its own.

If we’ve learned anything over the last year and a half, it is this: It’s not enough to put a president of real talent and vision and leadership in the White House if the same qualities are not matched at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  We need leaders who will bring the courage of our convictions to Capitol Hill.  That’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate.

This is the best chance we’ve ever had to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.  I will not allow that opportunity to be squandered – as it has been – sabotaged not just by Republicans who stand against us but by Democrats who sell us out.

The voters in Arkansas and Pennsylvania sent a loud and clear message to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night – and we should, too.  The message to our own party is this: “Stiffen your spine – or step out of the way.”

I am not a perfect messenger, but in the Democratic Party I led – and the Democratic Party I still believe in:

  • We don’t cut deals with drug makers to protect their profits.  We put patients first.
  • We don’t reward companies for exploiting workers or shipping our jobs overseas.  We defend the right to organize and invest in education and training here at home.
  • We don’t give Wall Street CEOs bonuses when their banks become too big to fail and then give them a card that says “Get out of jail.  We’ll pay the bail.”  We punish financial predators and protect families from foreclosure.
  • And we don’t let drillers off the hook when they desecrate our environment.  We force them to pay for the damage they cause and make sure it never happens again, and we revolutionize our energy policy, so that no longer have to foul our oceans or spoil our skies – or spill our blood – just to power our planet.

I want to pause on this point.  While we gather here this morning, an oil slick bigger than the states of Delaware and Maryland combined is spreading through the Gulf of Mexico.  The explosion on Deepwater Horizon will rank as the worst economic and ecological disaster in our history.  Yet the company responsible for billions of dollars in losses to the coastal communities faces no more than $75 million in civil liability – that’s a single day’s profit for British Petroleum.  That’s outrageous.

But it’s the result, in part, of an even bigger slick of oil money that our own party has done little or nothing to clean up.  The same flood of corporate cash washed away our hopes for a public option, drowned discussion of a single-payer health plan, and watered down the reforms we need on Wall Street.  And too many politicians, complicit by their silence, surrender without a fight.

That’s why your decision today is so important.  We’re here not just to select a senator.  We’re here to decide who we are, what kind of party and what kind country we want to be.  You choose.

We can settle for the status quo, where we sell Senate seats to the highest bidder and turn Congress into a wholly owned subsidiary of the industries it’s supposed to be regulating.

Or we can say no.  We can reject the politics of business as usual, the pay-to-play culture that corrupts Washington and corrodes our country.

Part of changing that culture, a member of the Senate once said, “is recognizing that special interests – the insurance companies, the banks, the drug companies, the HMOs – have come to dictate” our agenda.  And “the only way you break out of that,” this senator said, is to stop taking money from those groups “so that ordinary people’s voices are heard.”

I believe Senator Obama was right.

I am the only candidate in this race – and one of the few in America – who refuses to accept contributions from special-interest groups.  When we win this election, I will owe my seat not to Washington, not to Wall Street.  I will owe this seat to you.

A lot of the power brokers and party bosses say that you need special-interest money to win.  But I say if you take that money, you lose – and more importantly, the people lose.  Millions of people are already losing; they’re losing not just their jobs and their homes and their savings, they’re losing their faith in our political leaders and in our principles.

And it’s no wonder – when some of the most powerful corporations on earth spend millions of dollars to bankroll Congress and block reform.  When the Supreme Court of the United States gives those corporations even more power by transforming them into people.  And worst of all, when our own party puts democracy up for sale.

Washington will never change on its own.  But when a grassroots campaign like our wins a race like this – without a dime of corporate cash – our victory will send a shock wave to a town that needs one.

And when we win, some other candidate, somewhere else in America – maybe someone who hasn’t even thought of running for office yet – will take the same approach.  And when he or she wins, another candidate will follow suit, and then another, and another.  You and I can chart the course not just of this campaign but of our country.

Join this cause, and we can reshape politics and restore public trust.  We can turn America into what it once was, and what it can be again: a source not of cowardice or complacency or despair, but of courage and confidence and determination.

“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”  Stand with me now, and I will lead this ticket.  Stand with me now, and I will hold this seat.  Stand with me now, and I will always, always stand with you.

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