August Ritter, a junior global tourism major, remembers when the music stopped. His father, gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter, used to wake the family up singing Johnny Cash songs.
That was before term limits forced Bill out of his 12-year job as Denver’s district attorney. After a life of public service, the lawman didn’t know what to do.
So when he decided he wanted to run as the Democrats choice for governor, his family rallied behind him. None more actively than August, who took the semester off to help in his dad’s campaign against Republican Bob Beauprez.
“Parents do so much for us as kids, and we never really get the chance to give back,” the 20-year-old said. “As much as I love CSU, I want to help (my dad) with his vision.
“But I’m not gonna lie, I do miss being a Ram.”
August spent the summer working on the campaign with 25 other college interns and simply couldn’t leave, he said.
But not being a Ram, even just for a semester, does have its drawbacks.
“I had to pay like $60 for my ticket to the CU-CSU game since I’m not technically a student this semester,” he said, laughing. “But it was worth it. I told the campaign that I’d work overtime for the rest of the campaign if they let me have the game off.”
The campaign allows August to keep ties with his school even during his semester-long hiatus. He remains in close contact with the CSU Young Democrats.
“We talk about three times a week,” said Ellen Steiner, president of the activist club.
August speaks at various venues throughout Colorado, campaigning for his father. And explaining Bill’s stances on issues is an easy task for August. After all, he’s known the guy his whole life.
“He is a consistent man and when he decides what his opinion is on something, he doesn’t easily change his mind, unlike other candidates for governor,” he said, throwing in a jab at the opposition.
Still, he’s not a policy wonk, and sometimes he gets stumped.
“I still usually don’t know the answer when someone asks me, ‘So what is your dad’s position on House Bill 268, section B32?'” he said.
Steiner, who’s known August since he was freshman, said the candidate’s kid is taking the campaign quite seriously.
“I’ve noticed a huge difference in him,” Steiner said. “He’s dressed up in nice outfits that I have never seen before, and stepping up for his dad. I’m really proud of him.”
Despite his seriousness, he remains personable.
“He is very smiley, and very charismatic – even on his serious side,” Steiner said. “He does a great job bringing Bill back to earth about college kids’ needs.”
Regardless of whether his dad wins in November, August said the time he’s spent with his father recently has strengthened their bond.
“My brothers and sister are jealous,” he said, jokingly. “I get to hang out and fly with him and see him a whole lot more. We have a huge friendship, because it’s not just parenting anymore.”
And, of course, the question must be asked: Does August Ritter have a political future?
He says no.
“There are a lot of good things that politics has, but a lot of politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, are really self-involved,” he said. “I want to help my dad because I think he can change things.”
Staff writer Skylar Rick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.