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Garfield County precincts rally for caucuses

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” For the first time in decades, Colorado’s caucuses may have a significant influence on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

It’s an opportunity local Republicans and Democrats are eager to seize.

In most previous presidential election cycles, nominees from both parties have been ordained by the time Colorado party voters have a chance to weigh in.



Both Ed Sands, chair of the Garfield County Democratic Party, and Milt Blakey, chair of the Garfield County Republicans, said they are expecting big turnouts for Tuesday’s state party caucuses.

“I would urge people to come early,” Sands said. “We are expecting a very high turnout.”




Blakey and Sands both said thPhoto:17389164,left;is year’s caucuses will be much different than past caucuses because of the accelerated presidential primary schedule.

“I think the caucuses have generated a lot of interest because we haven’t done anything like this,” Blakey said about Colorado holding its caucuses the same day 21 other states will hold presidential primaries and caucuses, on what’s being called Super Tuesday. “We never did anything much in respect to the presidential process because the (state) was so late in the process. Basically all the decisions were made before Coloradans could even think about it.”

Sands said the energy for this year’s caucuses is much higher because “Colorado’s votes will mean a lot.”

To participate, caucus-goers had to have been affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties as of Dec. 5 and been eligible to vote 29 days before Feb. 5.

The caucuses are the first step for a local party to choose delegates for later nominating assemblies and begin the process of picking candidates whose names will appear on the state’s primary ballots in August.

Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico said there is so much anticipation and enthusiasm behind Super Tuesday that there are some local people who think there is going to be a presidential primary in Colorado that day.

There will be no voting at the regular polling places on Feb. 5, Alberico said.

Democrats conduct a different caucus process than Republicans, Sands said. When the local caucuses kick off, local precincts must break off and conduct a presidential preference poll.

However, the precincts must first conduct a straw poll to determine whether a candidate can garner 15 percent of the vote to remain viable.

If a candidate can’t get 15 percent of the vote, her or she is dismissed from further

consideration, Sands said. If a caucus member’s choice is not viable, that person then can support another candidate.

The precincts will then take an official presidential preference poll. Sands said local party members will have to calculate the precinct votes to determine the number of pledged delegates each candidate will receive for the party’s county convention ” another step in the Democratic presidential nominating process in Colorado. Each precinct is allotted a certain number of delegates to the county convention, Sands said.

The precinct supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and those who are uncommitted must then go to three separate corners of the room, where they will vote on who they want their delegates to be.

Results of the presidential preference will be reported to district captains ” the people in charge at each caucus location ” who will phone their results to Sands. He will phone the results to the state party.

“If all goes well, the state party will have all of the results by 9:30 p.m.,” Sands said.

After the presidential preference poll, the precincts will conduct a U.S. Senate vote the same way to choose between candidates U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, and Mark Benner, 54, an art teacher from Anton.

During the caucus, local Democrats will also elect two precinct committee people to two-year terms and vote on proposed platform resolutions, Sands said.

Democratic candidates in state and local races will be nominated through the party’s county assembly ” which is scheduled for March 8 ” and state assembly, Sands said.

Blakey said area Republicans are looking to get the their party’s presidential preference election done as soon as possible in order to forward local results to the state party.

At each precinct, caucus members will receive a ballot. They will privately pick their preferred candidate and turn their ballots in to precinct leaders, who will tabulate the results and hand them over to their district captains. Those captains will then phone the results to Blakey, who will forward the numbers to the state party.

After the presidential preference election, the Republicans will also select two precinct committee members for each precinct and then elect delegates and alternates to go to the county assembly.

pyates@postindependent.com

Registration for caucuses begins at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Caucuses begin at 7 p.m.

Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4

Carbondale Middle School

455 S. 3rd St., Carbondale

Precincts 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Garfield County Courthouse

3rd Floor, Room 300

Glenwood Springs

Precincts 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Coal Ridge High School

35947 Highway 6, New Castle

Precincts 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Wamsley Elementary School

225 E. 30th St., Rifle

Precincts 24, 25, 26, 27

Grand Valley High School

800 Cardinal Way, Parachute

Republicans want to get caucus sites open by 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 5. Caucuses begin at 7 p.m.

Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4

Roaring Fork High School

2270 Highway 133, Carbondale

Precincts 5, 6, 7, 8

Shannon Stowe’s residence

192 River Ridge Drive, Glenwood Springs

Precincts 9, 10, 11, 12

Glenwood Springs Community Center

100 Wulfsohn, Glenwood Springs

Precincts 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Burning Mountain Fire District

611 Main St., Silt

Precincts 19, 20, 21, 21, 22, 23

Garfield School District Re-2

Administration Building ” Learning Opportunity Center

839 Whiteriver Ave., Rifle

Precincts 24, 25, 26, 27

Battlement Mesa Activity Center

Community Room

398 Arroyo Drive, Parachute


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