Pitkin GOP to open Aspen headquarters
August 17, 2012
ASPEN – Look out, Democrats – the Pitkin County Republican Party is opening an Aspen headquarters to bring more attention to local, state and national candidates running in the Nov. 6 elections.
A grand opening, featuring lunch and special guests, will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the headquarters building, at 834 W. Hallam St. in the S-curves on Highway 82. Volunteers will hang a large red, white and blue banner at the site today, according to local party Chairwoman Frieda Wallison. The event is free and open to the public.
“It’s pretty informal,” Wallison said.
State party Chairman Ryan Call also will be present for the grand opening. Also, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, who is seeking re-election, will attend Saturday’s event, Wallison said. Colorado’s 2nd District includes Aspen and Pitkin County.
Wallison said volunteers staffing the headquarters hope to bring more support to Tipton, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, state House District 61 candidate Debra Irvine, incumbent District Attorney Martin Beeson and others.
Wallison said the Pitkin County GOP has become extremely active in the past few years and that the sold-out Lincoln Day dinner on July 31 evidenced increased local support for the party. The event, in the Hotel Jerome’s ballroom, drew more than 250 people, many drawn by the keynote speaker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who successfully fought a recall vote this year.
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Wallison also is a Colorado delegate for the Republican National Convention, which begins Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla. She’s lived in Pitkin County for 20 years and said that to her knowledge, Saturday will mark the first time that the GOP has opened a local headquarters during her time as a local resident.
Details regarding the office’s operating hours are being worked out, but Wallison said organizers are aiming for noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.
There’s a common misperception that Pitkin County is historically liberal or Democrat, she said. In fact, a majority of county voters supported Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, according to Dwight Shellman III, elections manager for the county.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 8,728 “active” voters in Pitkin County. Republicans account for 19.7 percent and Democrats encompass 36.7 percent of the total. Voters unaffiliated with any political party make up 42.7 percent of the potential electorate.
“These numbers change every second,” Shellman said in an email. “We’re probably processing 100 to 300 voter-registration applications and change forms per week.”
In the recent past, local unaffiliated voters who leaned toward Republicans were often “concerned” about airing their political views, Wallison said. Now, they’re coming out of the closet, so to speak.
“I believe that it’s changing,” she said. “And I think that’s because they’re excited about the (conservative) ideas, the philosophies and the notion that there are a lot of other people here who are Republican or Republican-leaning, and they can feel more open about expressing their views.”
Wallison said local Republicans are more passionate today because of a combination of factors, including the 2008 presidential victory of Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama as well as President Obama’s failure to fix the ailing national economy.
“I think it’s true that our economy is still quite broken,” she said. “That does cause people to reconsider what their political allegiances might be. The fact that we’ve been as active as we have gives people a place to turn to and another view on what should be done.”