Obama opening western Colorado offices | AspenTimes.com

Obama opening western Colorado offices

P. Solomon Banda
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign said Friday it is opening three offices in western Colorado and two on the more populous Front Range, hoping to capitalize on his support in rural areas.

The offices in Grand Junction, Telluride and Durango in western Colorado and Greeley on the Front Range of the Rockies are being opened on the heels of Obama’s strong showing in rural areas of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, said campaign manager David Plouffe.

The campaign is opening a second office in Fort Collins, also on the Front Range and about 60 miles north of Denver.

Obama’s Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton garnered more votes in the Nevada caucuses, fueled in part by her support in Las Vegas. But Obama beat her 49 to 40 percent in rural areas to pick up 13 of the state’s 25 delegates.

The openings bring to 12 the number of Obama offices in the state and would make it the first presidential campaign with offices on the Western Slope, said Matt Sugar of the Colorado Democratic Party.

About a half-million of the state’s 4.8 million residents live on the Western Slope.

Obama, of Illinois, already has offices in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and Pueblo along the Front Range, where 3.9 million people live.

“If the Democrats were thinking about who would really put the state in play, we think Sen. Obama would make it very competitive,” Plouffe told reporters during a conference call.

Colorado will choose its 70 Democratic delegates in caucuses on Feb. 5, along with 21 other states with primaries or caucuses that day.

The biggest prizes among the Democratic states will be California (370 delegates), New York (232) and Illinois (153).

“There’s a lot of energy around this campaign,” Plouffe said. “When we open up an office … we’re there to work with an existing group of people.”

He said hundreds of volunteers are knocking on doors or making phone calls to potential caucus-goers.

“A staff is not an organization. They’re there to support an organization,” he said.

Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said rural voters are more likely to support Republicans.

Western Colorado leans Republican, although two-term Democrat John Salazar was first elected in the 3rd Congressional District in 2004 to succeed Republican Scott McInnis, who retired. The district covers most of the western part of the state.

William Mayer, a political science professor at Northeastern University, said targeting rural areas is a good strategy for Obama. He said Democrats in overwhelmingly GOP areas are often energized and represent an opportunity for Democratic candidates.

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