The Colorado Democratic Party picked strategist and former Congressional aide Rick Palacio to become their new leader over the weekend, hoping he can help them woo young voters. Palacio is 36-years-old, openly gay and Latino.
Palacio was elected at a Saturday convention headlined by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Palacio received more than 50 percent of the vote in a 3-way election, reports the Denver Post.
"I'm very excited," Palacio said after the vote. "I'm excited for our party. We have a lot of work ahead of us as Democrats. I look forward to working with Democrats from all 64 different counties to make sure that we succeed in 2012."
Palacio, who will resign his current position as deputy director of member services for U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said it's also important to ensure that all divergent opinions within the party are heard so Democrats can all move forward in the same direction. Sen. Mark Udall added that "Rick represents a new generation of leaders, and as a sixth-generation Coloradan who was born and raised in Pueblo, I believe he will serve the party well."
You may recall that in December 2010, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter selected Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez as the first Latina and the first openly gay jurist on the state's high court.
Palacio is an 8th generation Coloradan, reports Progressive Involvement. Palacio's grandmother, a former chair of the Las Animas County Democrats, survived the infamous Ludlow Massacre in 1914, an attack by the Colorado National Guard on 1,200 striking coal miners and their families. Nineteen were killed.
President Obama won the Rocky Mountain State in 2008 with more than 53 percent of the votes, crushing opponent John McCain who received about 45 percent. The state and national party are determined to keep Colorado "blue" in 2012. But sooner than that, Palacio will have to strategize a win on SB172, the civil unions bill that begins hearings today.