Obama, Romney carry caucus voting in Eagle, Garfield counties | AspenTimes.com

Obama, Romney carry caucus voting in Eagle, Garfield counties

Compiled from Glenwood Post Independent
and Vail Daily reports
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paula Stepp takes count during a Democratic precinct caucus at the Garfield County Courthouse on Tuesday evening. (Kelley Cox/Post Independent)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Turnout for party caucuses was heavy Tuesday night in Garfield County, where Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney claimed victory among county caucus voters.

Obama and Romney also carried Eagle County, while Obama won handily among Pitkin County Democrats, but Republican voters were split between Romney and John McCain.

The Garfield County Republicans were the first to report their numbers. Across the expansive county, party faithful cast 572 ballots, giving Romney 317 votes of those votes or 55 percent of the total. McCain was second with 113, and Mike Huckabee was third with 86. Following in fourth was Ron Paul, who received 51 votes.

Although Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson have both dropped out of the race, Giuliani received one vote and Thompson took in another four votes from county voters.

“Some folks just don’t give up,” observed Milt Blakey, chairman of the Garfield County Republicans, who reported his local party’s numbers to the state party.

Blakey said the turnout of Republicans in the county on Tuesday was “very good in comparison to caucuses in recent years.” He said it could be the largest caucus turnout that county Republicans have seen in the last decade.

The Silt fire station was packed with Republicans, he reported.

“We filled the place,” Blakey said. “We had a great turnout. We had a lot of people and a lot of new people.”

Garfield County Democrats, in their presidential preference polls, gave Obama a huge victory. He received 675 caucus votes ” or about 71 percent of the 947 raw votes cast Tuesday night.

Hillary Clinton was second with 249 votes, which equaled 26 percent of the county Democratic caucus votes. Edwards, who has dropped out of the race, was third with 13 votes. Another 10 people were uncommitted.

Ed Sands, chair of the Garfield County Democratic Party, said the turnout for county Democrats could be the biggest the local party has seen in decades.

“We have never had anything come close to those kinds of numbers,” Sands said. “We have never had caucus this size before.”

The story was much the same in Eagle County, where 400 boisterous and vocal Democrats overflowed the county commissioners’ chambers in Eagle. Democrats on the Roaring Fork Valley side of Eagle County gathered in El Jebel.

At final count, Obama took 414 Eagle County Democratic delegates, Clinton had 150, nine people remained uncommitted, and Mike Gravel had one caucus supporter.

Veteran caucus-goer Stephen Richards, of Eagle, said the “overwhelming turnout” was because of the displeasure with the current administration.

“I think George Bush has done this for us,” he said.

Republican voters in Eagle County picked Romney over McCain by a wide margin in a straw poll Tuesday night.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, got 247 votes ” 100 more than Arizona Sen. McCain. Mike Huckabee got 45 votes and Ron Paul got 32 votes In Eagle County.

The Republican caucuses were held at seven locations around the county Tuesday night. Most of Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff’s votes went to McCain, while Edwards and Basalt Republicans mostly voted for Romney.

Caucus locations also reported a high turnout, and Edwards had the most voters in the Vail Valley, with 123.

Vail had 49 voters while normally it has about 15 in a caucus, Vail resident Mike Mathias said.

Fifteen Republicans showed up in rural Burns, a 42 percent turnout, said Sandy Skiles, Burns resident and third vice chair for Eagle County Republicans.

“We were very happy with our 15 people,” Skiles said.

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