By Jimy Valenti
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
Republicans gathered at the Adams County Fairgrounds last Saturday for their biennial GOP Assembly where delegates nominated 12 candidates for local and legislative races against Democrats who heavily dominate the district. The assembly also elected 201 delegates to represent Adams County at the May 22 Republican State Assembly in Loveland.
“There was a ton of enthusiasm,” enthused Adams County GOP Chair Clark Bolser. “The candidates are running on the problems and concerns that so many here have with the legislature and congress. The delegates responded.”
Nearly every Republican running for statewide office, congress, senate and governor addressed the crowd of delegates and alternates.
But the actual campaigning started well ahead of the 8 a.m. registration time.
Hundreds of campaign signs planted along the drive into the Adams County Fairgrounds welcomed delegates. As the partisans approached the large glass doors to the fairground’s dome-shaped convention hall, CD 7 candidate Ryan Frazier greeted voters outside with coffee and bagels while state treasurer candidate J.J. Ament listened to delegate concerns.
State Treasurer candidate Ali Hasan, meanwhile, was stationed inside, passing out doughnuts from a large box emblazoned with his campaign stickers. HD 32 candidate Al Jacobsen, with his slogan of making lemonade with Democratic lemons, naturally gave out lemonade. CD 7 candidate Mike Sheely donned his signature cowboy hat and wandered throughout the hall, shaking hands with as many delegates as possible.
Historically the district has not been overly kind to Republicans. All the county’s elected officials are Democrats. Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, is the only Republican legislator in the county’s delegation.
Of the 194,325 registered voters, 68,045 are Democrats, 55,978 are Republicans and 70,302 are unaffiliated according to recent figures from the secretary of state’s office.
Former county GOP Chair Mary Dambman moved to the district seven years ago from the Republican stronghold of El Paso County. She said she knew how to build a Republican foundation and while serving as chairman helped elect the county’s lone Republican, Rep. Priola.
Dambman wore what looked like a political toga — a Scott McInnis for governor t-shirt tied to a Ken Buck for Senator t-shirt — as she made the rounds beneath the fairground’s large dome.
Bolser ran as Dambman’s vice chair in 2008. The two agreed Bolser would chair the county’s Republican party this year, but Dambman said she would still help any way she could.
“I don’t want to be responsible,” Dambman said. “I want to be irresponsible for a change because I’m out there working for Scott McInnis and Ken Buck and that’s what I like. I have no title at all. I can be a free spirit.”
Bolser said the delegates were mostly new to politics and many of them are involved in local tea party or 9/12 groups. He commended them for participating in the Republican
Gubernatorial candidates Scott McInnis and Dan Maes, U.S. Senate candidates Steve Barton, Cleve Tidwell, Ken Buck and Jane Norton’s representative, CD 2 candidates Bob Brancato and Steve Bailey, and CD 7 candidates Mike Sheely, Lang Sias and Ryan Frazier addressed the delegates along with candidates for multiple state positions.
Attorney General John Suthers received the loudest applause and a lengthy standing ovation after explaining why he joined several other states in a lawsuit over health care reform.
“If this legislation is allowed to stand and the federal government is allowed to force you to buy any product or service they think is good for you, then there is no limit to the federal government’s control over your individual decision making,” Suthers said. “They can make you buy the car they want. They can make you buy the food they want.”
The assembly’s main business was to select a nominee to challenge Rep. Edward Casso in HD 32. All other 11 candidates were nominated through acclamation.
Chairman for HD 32, Martin Mendez, reported 54 voting delegates. Andrew Goad withdrew from the race. Standup comic and author, Al Jacobsen, received 7 votes — just 13 percent — and small business owner and IT consultant, Kaarl Hoopes, won the nomination with 47 votes, or 87 percent. Candidates needed at least 30 percent of the vote to get on the primary ballot.
Hoopes may have a tough time overcoming the district’s voter makeup — 40 percent Democrat, 37 percent unaffiliated and 22 percent Republican. Hoopes is running on a fiscally conservative platform and said Casso has supported tax and fee increases, thus causing unemployment.
“The biggest need is jobs,” Hoopes said. “There are a lot of these delegates that lost their jobs and I believe I can make a difference for them.”
Although many candidates ran unopposed, they used the assembly to sign up volunteers and build support.
Dambman said Adams County Republicans could make more inroads this year with help from the delegates. HD 34 candidate Brian Vande Krol said he signed up more than a dozen volunteers.
“We have a wonderful wind blowing behind us this year because of what’s going on in the legislature and nationally, but it all starts in the precincts,” Dambman said. “These delegates need to continue working in their neighborhoods to get Republicans elected in the county.”
Republicans nominated at the Adams County GOP Assembly were: Erik Hansen for county commissioner; Rebecca Lefebvre for county treasurer; Dana West for County clerk and recorder; Mark Nicastle for county sheriff; and Mike Arnall, M.D., for county coroner.
In addition, Representative Kevin Priola was nominated for another term in HD 30; Tom Janich was nominated in HD 32; in HD 32, Kaarl Hoopes won the noination; Don Beezly is the candidate in HD 33; Brian Vande Krol in HD 34; Edgar Antillon in HD 35; and Luis Alvarez was nominated for SD 24.