Pitkin County and Super Tuesday | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County and Super Tuesday

Word cloud on the Caucus in the US.
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Super Tuesday in Pitkin COunty

Both the Democrats and Republicans will hold their caucuses on the Aspen School District campus Tuesday. Jan. 4 was the deadline to affiliate with either party in order to participate in the caucuses.

Here’s the schedule for each caucus gathering in Pitkin County.

Democrats

Where: Aspen High School cafeteria/commons

When: Doors open and check-in begins at 6 p.m.; voting starts at 7 p.m.

Republicans

Where: Aspen Middle School gym

When: Doors open and check-in begins at 6 p.m.; caucus starts at 7 p.m.

Other info: You can pre-register at http://caucus.cologop.org

*Colorado Republican caucuses are not taking straw-poll votes this year

So you want to participate in your political party’s Super Tuesday caucuses? Then there are a few things to know before you head to the Aspen School District campus, the venue for both the Democrat and Republican caucuses.

First, if you didn’t affiliate with either party by Jan. 4, you won’t be eligible to participate, but you can still attend no matter what your political persuasion.

Of Pitkin County’s 5,222 registered Democrats, 5,143 are caucus-eligible, according to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Of the 2,629 Republican electors, 2,586 can participate in their party’s caucus. All told, the county had 14,743 registered voters as of Thursday, 6,689 of whom are independent or unaffiliated.

How each caucus plays out will be entirely different Tuesday, and not just because of dueling political philosophies.

Colorado is the only state on Super Tuesday — when 12 states and one territory will select delegates for the presidential candidates — that isn’t conducting a presidential-preference poll for the GOP. The state’s Republican Party made the decision in August, citing a desire not to have its delegates tied down to a particular candidate when August’s Republican National Convention is held in Cleveland.

The decision was “unfortunate and disappointing to some, no question about that,” said Woody Creek resident Bob Jenkins, who chairs the Pitkin County Republican Committee.

But, Jenkins said, there’s still plenty of motivation for Republicans to attend the Pitkin County caucus, noting he expects 70 to 100 to attend.

For one, the caucus is the time when Pitkin County’s GOP will select chairpeople for the county’s 10 precincts, while 11 delegates and 11 alternate delegates will be chosen to attend the state’s Republican assembly April 8 and 9 in Colorado Springs, where delegates will be selected for the national convention. They also will encourage people to sign up to be election judges in the November contests.

“Those are the three big goals for us,” Jenkins said. “We will put this on and try to have as much fun as we can and get people involved.”

Jenkins called the caucus process a “grassroots effort from the bottom.”

With five GOP candidates remaining — frontrunner Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — Jenkins said there’s much excitement in his party.

“As you’ve seen across America, we have a lot of energy going on,” he said. “Just the fact that we’re getting these debates and we’ve got over 150 million people watching the primary debates, I think that single thing is really indicative of what we’re seeing on our party level — a tremendous amount of excitement nationwide.”

At their December debate party, Trump was the most popular candidate in a straw poll, getting 30 percent of the tally.

Pitkin County’s Democrats, meanwhile, will select delegates and precinct chairs and rally for election judges as well as take a straw poll for their presidential nominee.

Last week, a group of Pitkin County Democrats, led by Blanca O’Leary, held an event supporting Hillary Clinton and explaining the caucus process.

Aspen resident Howard Wallach, who is chairman of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, could not say who he is backing because of his position. Wallach also said he has no idea who will prevail between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders among the Pitkin Dems. Sanders’ meteoric rise has been a challenge for Clinton, once the prohibitive favorite for her party’s nomination before Sanders entered the scene. Clinton has claimed three of the four caucuses and primaries so far.

“In the absence of any challengers, there was sort of an empty space for (Sanders) to move up, and he did that very effectively,” Wallach said. “His message resonates with a lot of people who support and love everything Bernie.”

Wallach said two representatives from each campaign will make their pitches to the caucus participants. Afterward, members of the 10 precincts will gather separately and take straw polls. Delegates will be selected at the Pitkn County Democrats’ county convention March 19 in the Rio Grande Room above Taster’s Pizza, Wallach said. The state convention is set April 15 and 16 in Loveland.

The complexities of the process might make a primary election sound more enticing, Wallach said, but the caucuses have a grassroots feel to them with neighbors meeting neighbors, talking politics and party building.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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