Update, 4/20/20: Andrew Romanoff won nearly 86 percent of the vote at the Democratic State Assembly on April 18, making him the second candidate, after former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, to make the June 30 primary ballot.
Resume: Former CEO of Mental Health Colorado; former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives; founder of the Posner Center for International Development; former candidate for U.S. Senate (2010); former candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (2014) former researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Give me your 30-second elevator pitch: Why are you running?
Andrew Romanoff: Because the country is being torn apart, the planet is melting, and too many senators are just whistling through the wreckage. I’m not content to stand by while people struggle or suffer or die on account of problems we can fix.
What sets you apart from the other Democratic Party candidates?
I believe I’ve got the strongest record of leadership, the deepest connection to the grassroots of the state, and the most aggressive platform for change. We’re trying to create a system of universal health care—strengthening medicare to cover dental, vision, and long-term care….I’ve spent the past year running a mental health organization. We [also] talk a lot about building an economy that works for everyone and why it’s still so much harder to climb out of poverty in the United States than in other industrialized nations. How do we make the cost of housing, health care, and childcare go down, but also increase the access to education?
What is your top policy priority?
Combatting the climate crisis. I don’t want to condemn our kids to a future where storms, droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires become more frequent and destructive. There are millions of people uprooted from their homes. Because of pollution we’ve caused, we’ve created climate refugees.
How would you ensure Colorado’s interests are met in Washington, D.C.?
One thing I would do—which hasn’t been done in almost two years—is actually listen to the people I hope to represent by holding town hall meetings….When I was both running and serving in the state House, I would knock on doors, we held town hall meetings, we held ice cream socials. I came up with the idea of televising the state legislature. I came up with something known as the Colorado Channel. We wanted to make the government as accessible and transparent as possible.
If you ask most people in Colorado, “Do you want to reduce the risk of gun violence, do something about the climate crisis, expand access to health care, strengthen the economy, improve public education, reform immigration, increase the minimum wage?” I think most people are on the same page. But then if you ask, “Can we get a vote in the Senate on any of those things?” The answer from Mitch McConnell, who holds his seat in part because of the support from Cory Gardner, is no, no, no, no, no. I was the Speaker of the House [in Colorado]—I didn’t get to decide which bills got a vote. The Colorado Constitution says every bill does. I think the U.S. Senate would do better to function like Colorado.
How would you work with an increasingly divided Senate?
Well, I wouldn’t stay within the building and expect to get much done. I would do what I did in the state House—to bring irresistible forces from outside the Capitol to dislodge immovable objects inside the building. For example, when I became Speaker of the House, Colorado had fallen to 49th in the country for funding higher education. What we succeeded in doing was getting a coalition of students, teachers, university presidents, business leaders, and civic activists from across the state to march on Governor Owens’ office and say, “Look, we need to support higher ed.”
What is something voters might not know about you?
I have a twin sister. She’s seven minutes older, which she will tell you were the best seven minutes of her life.
Now for the lightning round….Pick one:
Broncos or Rockies?
I-25 or I-70?
National Western Stock Show or a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre?
Coors Banquet Beer or a Colorado craft brew?
Colorado craft brew
Hike a fourteener or raft the Arkansas River?
Raft the Arkansas
Fall foliage or wildflower season?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or Rocky Mountain National Park?
Wyoming or Utah?
Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.