In the years prior to her political career, Angie Paccione was just another member of the CSU community, first as a graduate student, then as an assistant professor of secondary education.
She returned to campus in 2004, recruiting student volunteers in her run for the 4th District’s congressional seat, primarily those within Young Democrats.
So, upon hearing of Paccione’s recent decision to drop out of the 2008 Congressional race, her student supporters have reacted with disappointment.
“It’s definitely unfortunate,” said Alesia Gifford, Young Democrats vice president. “It would’ve been great to have her leading Colorado with a more progressive stance.”
“She has had the campaign experience; I think her campaign would’ve been run stronger against (Republican) Marilyn Musgrave this time around,” said Brendan Dirken, Young Democrats president.
Last week, Paccione announced her decision to focus her efforts on her new position at consulting firm Pathways for Leadership, where she’ll be working as a leadership consultant. In her new position, Paccione will be training business leaders in the arts of leadership and management.
Paccione said she holds a passion in influencing the lives of others, and the immediacy of the offer was too good to give up.
“It really became a choice between campaigning for 14 more months for the opportunity to make a difference, or to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” Paccione said. “I just couldn’t turn it down; it’s an opportunity to make a difference right now.”
While having a lifelong passion for leadership roles, Paccione said she never knew that her future included politics when she began her graduate studies at CSU.
Paccione grew up in the Bronx before attending Stanford University on a basketball scholarship. After graduation, she spent two years of play in the Women’s Association Basketball Association before it went defunct. Paccione established Colorado as a home when visiting friends and enjoying her surroundings. After years of teaching at the high school level in Denver and Aurora, a 35-year-old Paccione came to CSU in 1995, pursuing a master’s degree and PhD in secondary education.
“CSU is probably the most welcoming university I’ve experienced,” Paccione said. “Everywhere I turned, people were willing to make accommodations. That was really welcoming as a non-traditional student.”
After earning her PhD, Paccione began work as an assistant professor at the university, working mainly with graduate students. Soon after, her political career kicked off.
When her campaign for the 4th Congressional District seat shifted into a heated battle against incumbent Marilyn Musgrave, Paccione sought the support of students at CSU.
Students supporting Paccione did canvassing work, spreading support for her while encouraging students to vote in the 2004 elections. Paccione said the college students she worked with brought the kind of energy her campaign needed.
“People know me as having a tremendous amount of energy, and that was matched by the students,” Paccione said. “College students are really a kind of untapped potential, it’s unfortunate that a lot of candidates don’t pay them attention.”
The race for 4th Congressional seat in 2008 includes primary Democrat candidates Betsy Markey and Eric Eidsness, neither of whom Paccione has chosen to endorse.
“If people want an endorsement, they have to earn an endorsement,” Paccione said. “I just don’t think either candidate has earned my personal endorsement at this point.”
Paccione said that she didn’t believe that the Democratic National Convention, taking place in Denver next year, would help Colorado Democrat’s efforts to carve a blue state out of Colorado, as the party’s supporters held a wide range of political beliefs.
“Our party is very broad based, much more so than the Republican party. We have people that are really left, or extremely conservative,” Paccione said. “We’re going to see a much broader political spectrum, which is a good thing, but if the people see too much of the far left, that could be discouraging.
In 2006, Eidsness, then running as an unaffiliated candidate, stole about 11 percent of the vote /- an unprecedented nab for a third party candidate.
“This state is 1/3 independent, so wherever the independents go is really how the states go, and the independents have been leaning Democrat because people want problems solved,” Paccione said.
Senior Reporter Erik Myers can be reached at email@example.com.