Two local women headed to Republican National Convention |

Two local women headed to Republican National Convention

Nelson Harvey
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

It’s been more than 40 years since a delegate from Pitkin County attended the Republican National Convention, and this August, Frieda Wallison is planning to change that.

But Wallison, who chairs the Pitkin County Republican Party, won’t be the only local resident to represent the Roaring Fork Valley at the convention in Tampa, Fla., which starts Aug. 27.

Nancy Carlson, a Carbondale-based real estate agent who is vice chair of the Garfield County Republicans, will also attend the convention as an alternate. Alternates fill in for delegates if they are not present for a vote at the convention.

“Say a delegate is out getting a hot dog when something comes up for a vote,” Carlson said, laughing. “Then an alternate would be there to make sure their vote gets counted.”

Both Carlson and Wallison, a semi-retired attorney and developer who lives in Old Snowmass, will represent Colorado’s Third Congressional District, a sprawling jurisdiction that includes 29 counties across western and southern Colorado.

Both have pledged to vote to nominate Mitt Romney at the convention. According to a New York Times tally, Mr. Romney now has 1,522 pledged delegates, far more than the 1,144 required to win the nomination.

For Democrats and Republicans alike, the national convention is both a party and a strategy session, designed to energize the base for the final months of the presidential campaign.

Wallison, who attended the 2008 Republican National Convention as an alternate, said delegates there voted on the party’s platform, as well as the vice-presidential and presidential nominees.

Delegates also dress in a manner that represents their state, and rumor has it that Colorado’s 2012 delegation is planning to wear cowboy hats and Western shirts, Carlson said.

Colorado’s delegate selection process is somewhat complex: In the days leading up to Colorado’s state GOP convention on April 14, each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts nominated three delegates and three alternates to attend the national convention. Another 12 delegates and 12 alternates were elected at the state convention.

In total, the state will send 36 delegates and 33 alternates to the convention. The three extra delegates are members of the Republican National Committee from Colorado, for which no alternates are sent.

At the Third Congressional District caucus meeting where both Wallison and Carlson were elected, between 150 and 200 people were running for six positions, Carlson said. Delegates win election by lobbying their colleagues, and giving a short speech at their district events.

Delegates and alternates who attend the national convention are not sponsored by the Republican Party, so Wallison and Carlson will cover all their own expenses in Tampa this summer.

Wallison, who worked as an attorney in New York and Washington, D.C., before moving to the Aspen area full time in 1998, was a strong supporter of John McCain in 2008, the year she became the chair of the Pitkin County Republicans.

Carlson, whose husband, Jeff Carlson, owns the Glenwood Springs Ford and Subaru dealerships, has long been active in local politics, knocking on doors and making phone calls. But it was only this year that she decided she wanted to become a delegate.

“This is one of the most important elections we’ve ever faced,” she said. “Our country is in a scary spot, and we need to do something soon.”

Carlson said she’d been involved in grassroots work since she was 18, so being a delegate is merely an extension of her work to date on behalf of the Republican Party.

“At the convention, I hope to see the party reach out to all the Republicans – and disillusioned Democrats – who were supporting someone else before,” she said.

Wallison, who was disappointed by McCain’s loss in 2008, said she thought things were looking brighter for Romney this coming November.

“The economic situation is dire, and this is not a good backdrop for the incumbent,” said Wallison. Her husband, Peter Wallison, studies fiscal policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

“Also in the last election, McCain was significantly outspent by Obama,” she said.

This election cycle, in part thanks to the influence of political action committees that can donate unlimited money to candidates, Wallison predicts that Romney and the Republican National Committee will raise a lot more money.

“Perhaps even more than Obama does!” she said.