Dispatches from Tuesday's GOP precinct caucuses.
No cookies, but new folks ready to work
By Christine Burtt
Republican precinct 326 - Denver
My first caucus was in 1982. Never having been involved in politics, and living in a decidedly Democrat district in Denver with no Republican activists in my precinct, I thought it would be a good idea to give the neighbors an incentive to come to the Republican meeting.
Caucus attendees in Precincts 325 and 326 included, left to right, Penny Osborne, Domenic Rea, Lauren Call, Vern Irwin, Tyler Kolden, and Denver County Chairman Ryan Call.
Photo courtesy of Christine Burtt
There was a lot of gang activity in those years and the Neighborhood Watch Program was being heavily promoted. So, I tagged to that, personally inviting the neighbors to meet a police officer at my house at 6 p.m. to talk about how we could lower the crime rate. The turnout was fantastic; about 30 people showed up.
I was congratulating myself when at 6:55, someone said, “Well, it’s almost time for the Democrat caucus to start down the street. Let’s go and see if they have cookies.” At which point, 27 people got up and left me thinking, “Cookies? No one told me about the cookies!”
Fast-forward 28 years, and I’m still inviting my neighbors to a caucus. A few weekends ago, Colin Servis, my co-committeeman, and I went door-to-door to remind our Republican neighbors about the caucus. Mostly, we just left a note, but where we were able to talk with someone, we got an earful!
People are angry, frustrated and scared about the economy and what Congress, Obama, and the Colorado Democrat legislators are doing to hurt their children’s future. They know what’s going on and they are prepared to take action.
The Southeast Denver District 3 precincts, 39 of them, met at Slavens School near Dartmouth and Josephine — and we served bottled water. (Still don’t have the cookie thing down.) The turnout was average for most years, 153 according to votes cast in the straw polls for governor and U.S. Senate. Of those who attended, we estimated about 25-30 percent were new to the process.
With one of our district captains, Dr. Carl Bonnett, on military assignment in Afghanistan, the meeting was ably led by our other captain, Paul Linton.
The meeting was extremely well organized with greeters at the door to help people find their precinct, precinct numbers neatly printed on table tents, and a flipchart with instructions for the meetings. Denver County Chairman Ryan Call and his volunteer team did an excellent job of putting together the materials, which featured bar-coded voter registration check-in sheets that doubled as the caucus attendee sheet. Just scan the barcode and get an instantaneous record of who attended and their future interest.
As usual, we started with the Pledge of Allegiance. Aside from the formal business of the caucus — electing precinct committeepersons and delegates to the county assembly — attention was given to the issues of the day and the straw poll. Republican candidate for HD 3, Christine Mastin, a pro-business, pro-family attorney, gave an update on the campaign and her strategy for defeating British émigré Democrat Daniel Kagen. Interestingly, Mastin’s family traces its lineage to fighting in the Revolutionary War. This time the battle is between a fiscal conservative and a socialist-leaning progressive.
With the Democrats in Congress intent on ramming through Obamacare with Parliamentary tricks, the national debt scheduled to double in the next five years, and with the Colorado Democrats in hot competition with their DC fellows to see how much they can regulate and tax the private sector, Republican attendees were angry, vocal and motivated to do everything possible to win the majority in November.
“Two of my neighbors who have never been involved came tonight,” said Floyd Hussey, precinct leader for 339. “They don’t understand how the government has gotten so out-of-control.”
It seems that every election has been “the most important of our time,” but with redistricting looming and the entitlement mentality of the Democrats pushing legislation, caucus attendees were genuinely worried for the future of America. This year, the “fairness issue” turns on the morality of saddling our children and grandchildren with unprecedented debt and the limits on opportunity and the risks to national security it poses.
The results of the straw polls were not in line with the state averages. Votes for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate: Jane Norton 49 percent; Ken Buck 31 percent; Tom Wiens 14 percent; four other candidates split the remaining 6 percent. In the gubernatorial race, Scott McInnis won 63 percent of the vote; Dan Maes captured 37 percent.
Christine Burtt is the precinct committeewoman for 326 in Denver and is chairman of the Colorado Republican Business Coalition, www.smallbizgop.com.
Nobody brought any tea to Aurora's caucus party
By Lynne Cottrell
Republican precinct 449 - Aurora
Our precinct has always had a pretty good turnout and while not quite as large as two years ago, there were 19 in attendance at the Red Lion Hotel in southeast Aurora — regulars and a few new ones, but no Tea Party folks. Bob Steine and I were re-elected as precinct leaders and I was elected by acclamation to be a delegate to the state and congressional assemblies. In his campaign speech, my husband, Bo Cottrell, also a longtime activist, told the group, “It is really important to me to be an alternate because my wife needs someone to carry her stuff.” He was then elected alternate by acclamation. (Actually, no one else wanted to run).
All were excited about our candidates and, although no state candidates stopped by, the participants enjoyed pouring over the literature and listening to local candidates.
Jane Norton and Scott McInnis were the winners in the straw polls for U.S. Senate and governor. The bottom line is everyone feels this is “our” year and are reenergized and really looking forward to the November election.
Lynne Cottrell has been involved in Republican politics in Colorado since 1986, having served not only as a precinct leader but also as Arapahoe County Party secretary, vice chair and chairman and a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2008.
Change is coming...now if we could only get rid of those RINOs!
By Crista Huff
Republican - Douglas County
Wow! Caucus. At this point, I can’t keep up with the emails and Facebook responses. I’m accumulating as much data as I can. So far I’ve heard from 63 people who took my (caucus training) class. Fifty-four of them became delegates, six became alternates, two of them did not compete to be delegates, and one tried but failed to win a delegate/alternate spot. Additionally, of the 33 of these people who competed to become precinct committee people, 32 of them were elected. (Only four were old-time GOPers; the rest were new blood.) Curiously, the one woman who failed to win a precinct position was so outraged that she’s now come up with a plan to compete for the higher district captain position next January. I love that!
I would have expected maybe 10-15 percent of these people to compete for precinct positions, so the fact that 50 percent of them stepped up to the plate and took on this responsibility is thrilling to me. I cannot change the Party by myself, which is why I’ve engaged so many thousands of voters in the last two years. It’s a big relief to now see the fruits of the labor.
Caucus turnout was far lower than 2008, but much higher than average. Craig Steiner, secretary of Douglas County Republicans, analyzed the numbers, and here’s what he reported: If we look at previous years in Douglas County, excluding the 2008 anomaly, average caucus attendance was 1100 people. Last night we had just under 2000 people. Same time frame for statewide attendance: average 15,000; last night 25,000. Statistics bear out a resounding success vs. history.
With so many grassroots people entering the Republican Party, both as delegates and as precinct committee people, change is inevitable. Ideally, we’d like to push out the RINOs and get closer to the Party Platform, especially emphasizing fiscal responsibility and the Constitution, which the grassroots activists unanimously support.
Crista Huff is a District 6 Captain in the Douglas County GOP.
Bronco Hasan county
By Ali Hasan
Republican - Denver County
The Denver GOP hosted every precinct under nine different district locations. We were proud to visit eight out of the nine districts, where we got to shake the hands of many activists and catch up with district captains. I think we visited over 400 different precincts, possibly more.
The district captains seemed very happy with the results — the crowds were extremely calm and organized. I would say that many are still making up their minds, as many activists came looking for research on candidates and asking many questions. In turn, I would say that the grassroots are still very undecided.
Nonetheless, people were clearly excited to participate and many were asking how best they could support us, whether it be through a yard sign, knocking on doors, etc.
My mother and sister also attended the caucuses in Eagle and Summit counties and found the crowds to be very similar. Many people are looking to help and volunteer, but remain undecided on some of the major races.
The most important part for us was seeing if our message of investing in Colorado, and divesting from bailouts, is sticking — fortunately, the majority of caucus goers had heard our radio ads and loved the message. Thus I think we are in an excellent position to win both the convention and the primary vote.
We were proud to visit almost all of Denver and shake hands with every major activist here. It will serve my campaign extremely well at both the state convention and the primary.
Denver is Hasan county!
Peace and love!
Muhammad Ali Hasan is a Republican candidate for state treasurer.
My Mamacita was my date at this year's caucus
By Monica Owens
Republican precinct 297 - Aurora
Last night was Party Time, or step one in the progression to the State Convention. There were about 150 people at Liberty Middle School in Aurora, and 15 people at my individual precinct caucus.
My Mamacita was my date, the former first lady of Colorado. State Rep. David Balmer, state Sen. Nancy Spence and state Rep. Cindy Acree were also in attendance.
This was the second caucus I have attended. (The first was in 2008 where I was elected as a state delegate, and went on to serve as a national delegate for John McCain).
This year, I was elected to our county assembly, 6th congressional assembly as well as the state convention. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to cast my votes for Jane Norton for U.S. Senate and Scott McInnis for Governor of Colorado. The alternate to the state convention is Ricky Bennett, the former police chief of Aurora.
Here’s to another interesting year in politics in our wonderful, purple state of Colorado!
Monica Owens was a volunteer coordinator for Bush-Cheney in Northern Colorado. She re-joined the Phase Line Strategies team in 2007, after working for Vice President Dick Cheney as his scheduler at the White House.
First-time attendees and quite a few veterans
By Rep. David Balmer
Republican - House District 39 - Aurora
Last night I hustled around to six separate school locations, visiting caucuses for 56 of the 64 Arapahoe precincts in my House District 39. Turnout was strong, but not nearly as heavy as in 2008. As an Army veteran of Afghanistan and Bosnia, I noticed quite a few veterans in the crowds. I especially was encouraged to see a number of first-time caucus attendees.
The crowds were enthusiastic and ready to get to work taking back Colorado. At each school cafeteria location I made a short speech, focusing on defending our constitution. I reiterated my ardent opposition to Governor Ritter’s 2010 tax increases. Furthermore, our government needs to stop over-regulating businesses and get out of the way, so that small businesses can create jobs in key sectors. Red tape costs businesses valuable time that could be spent growing their businesses.
I look forward to reaching out to all new caucus attendees to make certain that we get them involved.
Rep. David Balmer, R-Arapahoe County, is the Assistant House Minority Leader.
Everything went smoothly, and now I can vote for myself at the congressional assembly!
By Ryan Frazier
Republican precinct 201 - Aurora
Tuesday night, I had a great experience attending my caucus at Clyde Miller Elementary School in Aurora. I arrived a little bit early, which gave me an opportunity to talk to a number of caucus-goers before the caucus actually began. The thing that I was struck by the most was how many people were first-time caucus attendees. One gentleman told me that he decided to go to caucus this year because he was concerned that Congress was overreaching its constitutionally prescribed limits. Another lady told me how her husband could only find part-time work right now and how the economic downturn has been extremely tough on their family. The message I got from these two individuals, as well as other caucus-goers, was that they are eager to support new ideas and integrity coming from a fresh generation of Republicans.
Ryan Frazier, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in CD 7, talks with fellow caucusgoers at Clyde Elementary School in Aurora.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Frazier
While turnout was not quite as high as it was when I attended my last caucus in 2008 (during a presidential election year), the people who did show up were extremely motivated and willing to serve as delegates, alternates, and precinct captains. During the process, there was robust discussion about the issues and the candidates. While, of course, not everyone agreed on every issue, I did see an overall unity like I have not seen before in the Republican Party.
In my precinct, I ran to become a delegate and ended up being selected. Almost every candidate that I can think of, from candidates for Sheriff to Congress to Governor, all had their campaign literature available in order to aid caucus-goers in making informed decisions.
The caucus ended around 8:30, but most of the attendees stuck around for a while and talked to each other. While there were no refreshments, I think that I might volunteer to bring some for my precinct for the next time caucuses come around. I felt that the whole process went very smoothly and I am now looking forward to attending the county, congressional, and state assemblies. I also want to personally thank all the volunteers that made the caucuses possible.
Ryan Frazier serves on the Aurora City Council as an at-large member. He is a candidate this year for the Republican nomination to Congress in the 7th District.
General mood was outrage at what's happening in Washington, D.C.
By Marty Neilson
Republican precinct 2161307002 - Allenspark
Our precinct caucus was held at Wild Basin Lodge in Allenspark, a lodge used primarily for weddings and receptions. The lodge provided a comfortable atmosphere, coffee, and water. The caucus was called to order at 7:05 pm. Thirteen eligible voters attended.
There were two first-time attendees to the caucus. Except for the two new attendees, all of those in attendance also came to the 2008 caucus. I have attended twelve caucuses. I was unanimously elected caucus chairman. Diane Gruchow was elected secretary.
Our first item of business was the preference poll for Governor and U.S. Senator. Many attendees did not feel they had enough information about the candidates to make informed decisions. Voters were encouraged to visit candidate Web sites and check voting records and position statements. Many candidates had provided campaign literature.
Dan Maes won for Governor; former state Sen. Tom Weins won the U.S. Senate poll. We then elected committeemen to represent the precinct. Boulder County Republican Vice Chairman Pat Brophy and myself were elected. Our precinct was allotted five delegates/alternates to the Boulder County Republican Assembly, which will be held at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel on April 10. We filled the delegate positions; however, no alternate positions. I was elected delegate to the 2nd CD Republican Assembly and as a delegate to the Republican State Assembly, both of which will be held at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland on May 21 and May 22 respectively.
Our next item of business was to discuss and vote on resolutions to be presented to the County Assembly April 10. There were 18 resolutions, of which 17 were presented by the Boulder County Republican Resolutions Committee and one was initiated by our caucus, which called for the elimination of the Federal Reserve.
The general mood of our attendees was outrage at what is happening in Washington, D.C., with the ridiculous stimulus bill, the government’s desire to take over our health care system, the multi-trillion dollar national debt, the out-of-control spending, thousand+-page bills which are written by bureaucrats and not read by those in Congress voting them, fear of euthanasia of seniors if the government gets its way with controlling health care, and on and on. No one in attendance liked Washington, D.C, elected leaders, and the intrusion into our private lives. Everyone in attendance will be actively working to help take back our country and regain some of our lost liberties.
Marty Neilson is a member of the Colorado Long Term Fiscal Stability Commission and is a past president of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers.
Even-Steven for McInnis and Maes in Gov race
By Patrick Davis
Republican precinct 293 - Colo. Springs
There were 24 people who attended my caucus at the Chipeta Elementary School gym in Colorado Springs.
I have attended three caucuses.
State Rep. Kent Lambert stopped by to say hi. Colorado Springs City Councilman Scott Hente lives in this precinct and he was present.
Amy Mitchell gave an impassioned speech to be elected delegate to the State Assembly. She announced that she is supporting Ken Buck and Dan Maes. Amy was elected as delegate to the State Assembly.
Gerry Wietz was elected alternate to the State Assembly and announced that he, too, is supporting Buck and Maes.
Amy Mitchell was elected precinct leader for Precinct 293.
Results of the straw polls were 13 for Buck, eight for Jane Norton and three for Tom Wiens in the U.S. Senate race.
For Governor, the straw poll results had 12 for Scott McInnis, and 12 for Dan Maes.
Patrick Davis is a Republican political consultant.
One fifth of the turnout of 2008 caucus, but successful none the less
By Sallie Clark
Republican precinct 40 - Colo. Springs
People began arriving at Bristol Elementary School in Colorado Springs about 6:45 p.m. Several who came didn’t know what precinct they were in. Since we didn’t have all the precinct lists, we relied on a former election judge and knowledge of our area to locate the appropriate precinct. The division leader was able to combine six precincts in one room, each with their own tables. This provided the ability to make a speech to one group instead of having a different speech before each individual precinct. It helped us to get things moving along.
Caucus-goers from six different precincts sign in at a table set up in Bristol Elementary School in Colorado Springs.
Photo courtesy of Sallie Clark
Literature was distributed at tables and at a main table. There were more literature pieces from some candidates, but most everyone had at least some representation. I do not remember any literature from Robert Greenbeck or Vincent Martinez (U.S. Senate).
The turnout was similar to 2006 but only about one fifth of the turnout in 2008. There was one individual who was unaffiliated who attended with his wife but could not vote in the straw poll or participate in the caucus.
There were 12 attendees for the caucus in Precinct 40. The meeting began at approximately 7:15 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. The main discussion occurred at the very beginning of the meeting and was primarily about the higher assembly candidates. I spoke for gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis and Division Leader Steve Beach spoke for U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck.
Results of the straw poll were McInnis, 11; Jane Norton, 8; Cleve Tidwell, 3. No other candidates received any votes.
In our precinct there were only several contested local races — the Clerk and Recorder and Sheriff. There was some discussion, but not much, about local candidates and the State Treasurer’s race. Some attendees asked why we weren’t doing a straw poll on the State Treasurer race.
Delegates elected to the county assembly were myself, Welling Clark, Robert Shoop and Toni Shoop. Alternates were Ken Ganger and Tyrone Harris.
Welling Clark and myself were elected delegates to the state assembly and Tyrone Harris was chosen as an alternate.
I was elected precinct committee person along with Robert Shoop, whom I served with previously in 2006. Temporary chair was Welling Clark and secretary was Shannon Jones.
I observed upon greeting people that approximately 10-15 people in all six precincts were new to the process, but much of our caucus were individuals who had attended previously. It was my seventh caucus. We provided bottled water and snacks for our caucus attendees and there was limited interest in serving as a delegate. Many were not aware there was a cost to participate. We finished at approximately 8:30 p.m.
In all, it was a successful evening and the precinct committee persons did a nice job moving it along. We had some trouble calling in the straw poll due to the phone lines being busy so we combined our report into a text message and sent it in via email then followed up with a phone call later in the evening.
Sallie Clark, Republican, is an El Paso County Commissioner.