Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 | 7:36 a.m.
On the eve of the CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference presidential debate in Las Vegas next month, a national Democratic-aligned group will convene a summit here, presumably to try to frame issues before the GOP White House contenders take the stage at The Venetian.
Project New West will sponsor the event, which will features politicians led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and luminaries such as Ted Turner, Tom Brokaw and Zappos chief Tony Hseih. The World Market Center event will take place Oct. 16-17, thus ending one day before the debate.
It seems the New West Summit is designed to try to define Western issues in the gateway to the West for the 2012 presidential race right before the debate. The Intermountain West was critical to the Democrats in 2008 and surely will be again. The group will release polling data from the Western states as well as feature discussions of job creation, energy, tourism and education--as well as the West's evolving political environment.
Others expected include:
Montana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau (the highest-ranking Native American elected official in the country), former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, and Lem Smith, Government and Regulatory Affairs director at EnCana Oil & Gas.