GREELEY — Unrest among campaign staffers for House District 50 candidate Rochelle Galindo has led to the departure of the second campaign manager for the Democrat in just four months.
Deb Suniga stepped down abruptly on Monday after initially giving notice she would leave the campaign at the end of the month.
Suniga, who led Galindo to a 15 percentage-point victory over former statesman Jim Riesberg in the June primary, departed just months after Galindo’s first campaign manager Doug Booth left for a “difference of opinions” in March.
Suniga said the decision was not an easy one, but she could not continue under the current situation.
“The atmosphere being created, and the unhealthy environment was beginning to weigh heavily on my family and my mental health,” Suniga said.
In 2015, Suniga underwent open heart surgery. She said the stress over philosophical differences pertaining to how much time staff should devote to the campaign was not worth the risk to her health.
Complete Colorado learned of Suniga’s departure after trying to schedule an interview with Galindo profiling her stance on various topics facing Colorado.
Galindo, whose race against the popular Riesberg was analyzed in Complete Colorado during the primary run, demanded advance questions before allowing the interview. Those demands came after House Speaker Crisanta Duran and other House majority leaders took on a more visible role in Galindo’s campaign, including knocking on doors alongside Galindo and being key note speakers at fundraisers.
To date, Galindo has not expressed her opinions on many of the hot topics facing Colorado such as gun control, energy, transportation and healthcare. She has focused primarily on immigration and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), as well as getting out the vote and being the first gay, Latina woman from Weld County to run for a state office from a major party.
Riesberg supporters have previously questioned her commitment and expressed their disappointment in Galindo leaving her city council position halfway through her first term to run for a higher office.
They also worried her far left take on some issues may not appeal to the broader electorate in November.
HD 50 is vacant after former Rep. Dave Young, who is running for treasurer, was term limited. Democrats have held the seat since 2004, but with two relatively unknown candidates in both Galindo and Republican opponent Michael Thuener, the importance of the race may mirror the agenda of campaign donors, and some say campaign donations may reach more than $ 1 million.
Galindo’s endorsements outline the expectation of her votes. The Colorado Blueflower Fund and Emily’s List require their candidates to be pro-choice, Democrat women. Additionally, current House Democrats endorsing Galindo such as Duran, Joe Salazar, Faith Winter, Brittany Pettersen, Daneya Esgar, and others led the #MeToo movement among state legislators during the 2018 session, fought for increased spending, introducing legislation that violates TABOR and pushed for legislation to strip Coloradans of their Second Amendment rights.
Galindo’s campaign troubles appear to contradict some of her other supporters such as Colorado Working Families, CIRC Action Fund and SEIU Local 105, who all advocate for dignity and worth of employees to create a more just and humane society.
Those close to the campaign said Galindo’s treatment of her campaign staff has led to uncomfortable situations.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to believe that although I may share similar goals for House District 50 and the State of Colorado, we have a difference of opinion on how to reach those goals,” Suniga said.
Galindo’s other former campaign manager Doug Booth told Complete Colorado that he believes Galindo is a strong candidate who knows what she wants and how to get it. But he echoed Suniga’s statement concerning his departure.
“The reason I left was due to a difference in opinion regarding overall campaign strategy,” Booth said.
Galindo did not return requests for comment.