Interview: Colorado Democratic President Morgan Carroll to focus on efforts to reach Latino populations in 2022 election
With representation from a new congressional district up for grabs, Democrats recognize that Latino votes will be the deciding factor.
Congressional District 8 is nearly 40% Latino. Morgan Carroll, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said this population will not only decide the fate of congressional representation, but representation at all levels, including the CU Board of Regents, the Board of state education and others.
“It’s a powerful electoral bloc, and no vote in this community can be taken for granted,” Carroll said in an interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Matters. “We have to be on the pitch to listen…it has to be a priority or it would be at someone’s peril not to focus properly.”
Carroll was responding to criticism from nonpartisan Latin American organizations that said neither Democrats nor Republicans have historically ignored their communities until the last critical moment. Since Congressional District 8 also has the fewest registered voters, Carroll said Colorado Democrats have been focused on Latino registration efforts for the past year.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Ryan Warner: Morgan, welcome to the program.
Morgan Caroll: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Warner: Midterm election years are almost always an uphill battle for the governing party, which in this case is yours, true both in state and US capitals. A composite of polls shows that 53% of Americans now disapprove of President Joe Biden. Are you worried in this environment?
Caroll: Are you worried? No. But hard work, yes. In Colorado, the president and the Democrats are doing quite well.
Warner: What are you pointing at to say that? Do you see polls?
Caroll: I am. And I see approval ratings in the state, which still show a decent margin of positive approval for Democrats.
Warner: Against the national trend, you say?
Caroll: But we are above the national trend. But I think there is something we learn from these polls. And actually, I don’t think it’s as much about Democratic popularity or Republican popularity as much as voters are still struggling.
What I see in this is that people think we haven’t done everything we need to do for them yet. So obviously we accomplished a lot of what we said we were going to do. Things are looking up. Maybe not fast enough. Things can still improve. They can still get worse. So I think we’re smart about approaching the mid-terms, understanding that people are still struggling. They are less interested in political parties and more interested in what we are going to do for their results, for their children, for their lives.
There are, of course, people who are stalwarts in political parties anyway, but this midterm or any other, if we don’t speak the language of what matters to voters, then we miss the target.
Warner: What is an example of a struggle that voters have, that Americans have, and that you think Democrats should address?
Caroll: I think we need to understand that under the questions of whether you can pay your bills, whether you can afford housing, whether your children can go to school, mental health issues are on the rise . Anyone trying to parent through this whole pandemic time has been under a lot of added stress for themselves and their children, anyone who has tried to teach.
But we understand that beyond the issues people are facing, anxiety, depression and stress, like our country is still very stressed. And that means it’s cumulative. It doesn’t go away overnight with just one problem, whether it’s people affected by the pandemic, people who have had to telecommute from home, people who have tried to figure out how to get their kids to school at the House. An election does not change all that overnight.
Warner: And so it’s not that kind of recipe for an enthusiasm gap. I mean, people are distracted, people are facing unprecedented difficulties. And as you say, that may not be able to change in one election. Why go vote? Do you face this as Democrats?
Caroll: I think we need to give people a reason to vote and understand that their vote will decide if things keep getting better or worse, we guess it can’t get worse, it can. And we have to draw a direct line between the decisions made at the polls, what policies are made, how they are implemented and what will happen in their daily lives.
Warner: Well, give me an example of what Democrats would do to lower the cost of living if they were allowed to stay in power.
Caroll: So a good example is when the Democrats got the trifecta in the state legislature.
Warner: That means they have the State House, the State Senate, and the Governor’s Mansion.
Carol: Exactly. And what they did was they closed corporate tax loopholes and created the first-ever affordable housing fund. We’ve seen, for example, on affordability in rural parts of the state in particular, that broadband is absolutely essential for health care, for having a job, and for being able to have education options. It was part of Biden’s package, the bipartisan infrastructure package meant investing in broadband. And we did the same at the state level. This affects your portfolio in terms of job choices.
The Affordable Housing Fund. We literally looked at grant programs, partnering with local governments to get affordable housing. They were all under Democratic leadership, they were new, and that’s the kind of stuff that will end and go unfunded. And really when we saw the Republicans in charge, there was nothing done here. It was each one alone. And if you can’t afford it, so be it.
Warner: There’s a Democrat named Alex Walker running to unseat incumbent and provocateur Lauren Boebert in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Grand Junction and Pueblo. Walker caused a stir on social media. I would like to read an excerpt from an Instagram video he posted in March.
Alex Walker: I believe that if the Democrats played half as smart and half as shameless as the Republicans, we would never lose another election again. Did you know that 71% of Americans agree with Democratic policies? Probably not because we lose most of the elections in which we participate. Democrats don’t have a messaging problem. We have a cruelty problem. I loved Michelle Obama’s quote. “When they go low, we go high.” Let’s not forget that America burned three months later. When they drop, I’ll be waiting with a chainsaw.
Warner: Do Democrats have a cruelty problem?
Caroll: I don’t think so. I was really scared when I saw the right wing in this country losing empathy and valuing cruelty and ruthlessness. It changed our culture. And it is in fact about violent speech and violent concepts. I think there is a way to forcefully assert who we are and what we stand for and let it be known. Cruelty helps no one. It just means that we have two main political parties that would turn to cruelty, and cruelty is not part of our platform.
Warner: Where could the Democrats be more forceful?
Caroll: I was starting to talk earlier about what we’ve accomplished and what’s at stake. So let me give you an example of being more forceful. I don’t think we have two major political parties in the United States of America anymore. I believe the leadership of the Republican Party has been hijacked by a militia wing, which acts more like a cult than a political party. It’s energetic.
But I also think I can save it. I’m not interested in calling names. I am interested in democracy. And what we’re seeing is a tendency for a major political party hug in this country, a hug for conspiracy theories, a hug for hate speech, a hug for name-calling, tearing apart, demeaning, and demeaning, and intimidating as part of an actual platform for a political party.
Warner: It seems to me that you had to make a transition as chairman of the State Democratic Party to not see Republicans as an equal and a valuethere opponent of something else. Is that what I hear?
Caroll: You hear that because the party I see now has embraced corruption, violent rhetoric, violent behavior and frankly been dangerous. This has led to an increase in death threats against elected officials, election officials, even the president of the Republican Party was part of a militia organization that called for the summary execution of people who disagreed with him.
Warner: I will say, so it’s FEC United, which Kristi Burton Brown cut ties with.
Caroll: That’s true, but it’s not normal. And my concern is, it’s “just because” becomes common and persistent over time that we think it’s somehow normal. It is not normal. And so you’re absolutely right that I no longer see myself as dealing with two political parties with slightly different philosophies or beliefs about the best way to govern. And it’s now, if you’ve watched any of the Republican primaries or assemblies, all mainstream Republicans who don’t embrace conspiracy theories and embrace more violent speech and a call to arms lose, or they only participate in the ballot through petitions.
Warner: Well, isn’t that the fundamental question. Republicans win.
Caroll: Not in Colorado, but Colorado is a mixed state. They are winning in some parts of the country. And even as we stand here, I fear for people in parts of our country whose lives and character are at risk, based on Republicans in power, who are aggressively undermining people’s freedoms and rights.
In Colorado, we are in a better position. And if we hold midterm elections, people will have a choice. We can still be that beacon for good elections, for individual liberties and liberties, but there are real pockets. If we want to know what happens when Republicans take power, we don’t have to speculate.
Warner: We spent time in Colorado’s new 8th congressional district, which kind of interlocks with I-25 that runs from Thornton south, Brighton, all the way to Berthould., Greley. And those are parts of Adams, Larimer, and Weld counties. It was designed to be very competitive. How do Democrats win?
Caroll: The 8th Congressional District is very competitive and we are winning because we are better for workers and working families. This neighborhood is a good sample of what many Colorado families face. And so, whether we make economic and fiscal policies that affect every Colorado or for billionaires, it will matter in this district. That we fully fund our schools, which Democrats support, is really going to directly affect the lives and opportunities of people in this district.