‘Sincerest Apologies’ From State Democratic Chair After Caucus Waits

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Photo: Democratic Caucus in Denver March 2016 (AP Photo)
Voters crowd in to check with precinct captains at a Democratic caucus late Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Denver.

Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said Wednesday he was offering his "sincerest apologies" to anyone who was turned away or gave up before they could cast a vote in state party caucuses Tuesday night.

"But I'm grateful for everyone who participated and turned out," he said. "I think that last night may have shown that Colorado has outgrown caucuses at the presidential level."

State GOP chairman Steve House told The Associated Press that he agrees with Palacio. House said they will both push for a presidential primary vote in 2020 to allow more people to participate.

A record number of Democrats turned out for Tuesday's caucuses, leading to long lines and leaving many frustrated with the process.

"Did not get into the caucus site until 8:15," Jinna Berry commented on our Facebook page. "This was my first caucus and I was not impressed."

Berry was one of more than 120,000 Democrats who filled school classrooms and church basements across the state to choose between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Palacio said the party was prepared for record turnout, but wasn't necessarily expecting it. A review of the party's preliminary data shows that turnout was flat or slightly down in many of the state's most-populous counties. Chart: Dem turnout 2016 caucus

Legislator Hopes To Back Primary Bill

Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said after witnessing last night's issues, he hopes to sponsor a bill to create a presidential primary for Republicans and Democrats.

"I saw parents last night with kids in sleeping bags," he said. "I heard from folks who have family members serving abroad who didn't have a voice in the process. Colorado is too important of a state to have a system where not every voice is heard."

Garnett said he's not sure what form the legislation will take. A separate ballot initiative may also put the issue before voters this year, but it ran into roadblocks today.