Carly Fiorina headlines Pitkin GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner |

Carly Fiorina headlines Pitkin GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner

Former Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks at the Pitkin County Republicans annual Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen.
Lauren Glendenning/The Aspen Times |

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn said it’s not fair to characterize the state of Colorado as red, purple or blue — if elected officials at the state and federal levels just listen to their constituents, the labels aren’t necessary.

Glenn was in town Saturday as a guest of the Pitkin County Republicans, which hosted its annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Hotel Jerome on Saturday night. The guest list included GOP state Chairman Steve House, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Colorado House District 61 candidate Bob Schutt, district attorney candidate Jeff Cheney, University of Colorado regent candidate Heidi Ganahl and Pitkin County commissioner candidate Scott Writer.

Despite all the noise in the presidential race surrounding Donald Trump, Colorado state and local candidates are optimistic about the state of the Republican Party in Colorado.

Bob Jenkins, chairman of the Pitkin County Republicans, told the roughly 200 people in attendance that they shouldn’t listen to media outlets that are working to convince the American public the election is already over.

It’s not.

“The press is trying to intimidate you. The press is trying to tell you, ‘You can’t win this,’” Jenkins said. “Don’t listen to them.”

Schutt, who’s running against Democratic incumbent Millie Hamner, said the party is doing everything in its power to grab seats in the state House and, ideally, take the majority. He’s focusing on his messaging as he campaigns through five counties.

“Just because you’re a registered Democrat doesn’t mean you need to vote Democrat,” he said. “You can look at the people, look at the issues. … I think what we’re doing now as a party is we’re appealing to more moderate individuals — it’s no longer just right-wing conservatives.”

Cheney said state and local Republicans are finding their way during a complicated election season.

“We’re starting to congeal into more of a focused party than we were earlier in the summer,” he said. “I think we all realize the stakes are really high this year.”

The principles of the party are what matters, Cheney said. As people express disappointment in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, they can’t lose sight of what’s important at the local level, he said.

“The principles we’ve always stood for and shouldn’t sacrifice — personal responsibility, freedom, liberty, allowing government to do only what it has to do and only be as big as it needs to be to serve the people,” Cheney said. “We don’t sacrifice our local concern for the national drama. We still have a lot of decisions we need to make here that affect our local community.”

Voters shouldn’t sacrifice their ability to have a say because they don’t like the presidential candidates, he said.

“We have to be heard, and certainly if you’re choosing not to vote, you’re choosing not to be heard,” Cheney said. “Follow your conscience.”

Later in the evening, both Tipton and Glenn spoke, narrowing in on a similar theme. Tipton stressed that it’s Americans’ birthright to follow the American dream. Through the upcoming election, he said, the American people have the opportunity to “unleash America’s potential.” Tipton later quipped to applause that he would have loved to hear Fiorina debate Hillary Clinton.

For Glenn, who brings 13 years of local government service and 21 years of military experience to the table, the election is simple: Vote for the candidate who listens to his or her constituents. The El Paso County commissioner said that too often in Washington, members of Congress are simply out of touch.

“(Michael Bennet) is out of touch. He’s not here — he’s in lockstep with the administration,” Glenn said.

Another challenge facing this election is that the mainstream media have taken on more of an advocacy role in trying to push the electorate one way or another, he said.

“Don’t believe the noise or the polls,” he said. “They do not reflect the race.”

On the campaign trail, Glenn hears two important issues that are top of mind for Coloradans: the economy and national security.

“We need somebody that’s willing to fight,” he said.

Fiorina was the headliner of the evening, participating in some of the live-auction bidding before taking the stage to talk to the local GOP about her dedication to ensuring the right people get elected. She spoke of the importance of restoring a citizen government that is “of, by and for the people.”

“Politics is way too important to leave to the politicians, no matter how good they are,” she said. “I want to encourage you to stay particularly engaged in the next 85-plus days. And I can assure you that I will stay engaged because this country is worth fighting for.”

She referenced George Washington’s farewell speech in which he warned of the rise of political parties that can get so consumed with winning that they forget about governing.

She criticized concentrated power — the more concentrated it is, the more it’s abused, she said. Democrats would like everyone to believe the Constitution isn’t relevant anymore, she said.

“This must be our battle. As important as this election is — and it is — our republic does not rise or fall with a single election,” she said. “As important as this election is, even if we win up and down the whole ticket, it will remain a vital battle for us to fight. We must fight for the restoration of a citizen government in this nation. We must fight for the character of this nation. We must fight so that a nation by, of and for the people will not perish from this Earth. That is our fight.”

Across the board, Republican candidates at the GOP dinner said they’d support the Republican ticket in November. But one thing was impossible to ignore Saturday night — the name Trump was hardly mentioned.

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