Steamboat Springs At a packed fundraiser for Routt County Democrats Saturday night, energy could be found in the speeches as well as the crowd.
U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder County Democrat, and state Speaker of the House, Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, both focused on the need for renewable energy development in speeches to about 150 people at Howelsen Hill Lodge, during the Routt County Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. The event raised several thousand dollars for the county party through donations, live and silent auctions and a potluck dinner. The event also included a brief address from Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party.
"I think it surpassed our wildest expectations," Steamboat Springs City Councilman Ken Brenner said of the event.
Udall, who gave the night's keynote address, said moving toward energy independence is "the ultimate form of patriotism."
"I never again want to see our troops put in harm's way if we haven't exhausted all those possibilities," Udall, a member of the Armed Services Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, said of renewable energy development.
Udall also spoke about the recent success of Democratic candidates on state and national levels across the West - success, he and Romanoff said, that has brought Democratic majorities to Congress, the state Legislature and the Colorado Governor's Mansion and has landed the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
"Western Democrats are ascendant," Udall said.
The five-term Congressman hopes to capitalize on the trend.
While Udall did not formally announce his 2008 candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Loveland Republican Wayne Allard, he made his intentions clear to the boisterous Routt County crowd.
"I'm looking for a new mountain to climb in 2008," said Udall, an avid outdoorsman. "Within the next six weeks or so that will become very clear."
Romanoff said the "flagship legislation" by Colorado lawmakers this year is designed to make Colorado a leader in renewable energy. Romanoff cited House Bill 1281, which Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed into law and which demands lofty goals for renewable energy use in Colorado by 2020.
Saturday night's event also included a "Lifetime Democrat" award for Routt County native and active political participant Jim Stanko and Democratic Party volunteer awards for Loretta Davidson, Hope Cook and the late Ann Rooney.
"I am so pleased to see such grassroots interest in the future of our country," said former City Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner. "We are certainly seeing bigger numbers" at Democratic Party events.
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