Michael Bennet aide about Andrew Romanoff's victory claims at weekend county assemblies: We gained ground, too -- and we can walk and chew gum at the same time

Earlier this morning, we shared comments from Andrew Romanoff spokesman Dean Toda about this weekend's county assemblies, during which Romanoff extended his delegate lead over Senator Michael Bennet. "We currently lead 57 percent to 41 percent -- 16 points," Toda said. "That's big."

Sure -- but it's not large enough to make Bennet spokesman Trevor Kincaid start fondling the cutlery. He's pointedly upbeat about the results.

"I'm not sure what our numbers are; I'm on my way to find out the final tabulation," he says. "But it's our understanding that we both gained ground. They gained a little more than us, but we're really happy about how we performed."

The Bennet campaign felt the assemblies "went really well," he goes on. "Our delegates turned out and enthusiasm continues to build. I think we had a really strong showing, especially when you consider that we put together a serious, well-organized grassroots operation in just a few months, and Andrew's been running a political machine for two decades."

Behind the scenes, some Bennet supporters have suggested that Romanoff's longtime relationship with the sort of party activists who show up at county assemblies may not carry over to average Colorado Democrats. But Kincaid doesn't draw this distinction.

"I think they're both important groups," he says. "Both parts of the process bring something unique. So we're focused on our grassroots activists through the assembly process, but we're also focused on reaching out to every other voter in the state through the petition process. We have the ability in our campaign to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, and I view that as a strength."

The rationale for the Bennet camp's petition drive is in dispute. Romanoff's supporters maintain that Bennet is only using this approach to guarantee that he'll still be on the primary ballot even if he falls below 30 percent at the state assembly on May 22 -- an unlikely occurrence, since he's currently north of 40 percent. But Kincaid insists that isn't the motivation.

"We're not going through the petition process to make sure we're on the ballot," he emphasizes. "That's Andrew spin. We're doing it because we see the value of reaching out beyond the caucus and assembly process. We see the value in talking to voters who may not have time to take part in the caucus process. We're going to need those voters to win in the primary in August and the general election in November, and we want to make sure they're engaged. It benefits us to start talking to them early."

Regarding this weekend's results, Kincaid says, "we always knew that Andrew had those two decades of experience on us -- so we were kind of behind the eight ball to begin with. But our delegates came out, a lot of them for the first time ever. They're responding to Michael's bold ideas to fix a broken Washington and what he's doing to focus on solving problems and not playing politics, which stymies our system far too often."

In the meantime, he allows, "we're focused on growing the number of voters who are going to come out in the primary and in the general election. Ours is a statewide strategy that's still focused on winning in November."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts