Arapahoe GOP revelers bestow early Christmas gift to Mitt Romney

The Colorado Statesman

Arapahoe County Republicans rang in the holiday season Tuesday night at the Cherry Creek Marina and Yacht Club, overlooking the cozy event center’s namesake reservoir.

Arapahoe County GOP Vice Chair Jay Ledbetter, the county’s chairwoman Joy Hoffman, party activist Tom Myers and state Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call visit at the Arapahoe County Republican Party holiday bash.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

More than 200 merrymakers swapped stories, imbibed in a fancy buffet and quite a few worked the crowd ahead of a bevy of contested primaries, marveling that the process gets under way with precinct caucuses in a scant two months.

Arapahoe County Clerk & Recorder Nancy Doty and state Rep. Kathleen Conti are in a festive mood at the Arapahoe GOP’s holiday party. Doty announced she was joining a crowded field for the county commissioner seat being vacated by a term-limited Susan Beckman next year.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Arapahoe Republicans had plenty of opinions regarding a poll released earlier in the day showing Newt Gingrich pulling ahead of Mitt Romney by a two-to-one lead among likely Colorado Republican voters. Even though the Public Policy Polling survey pegged Gingrich with a whopping 19-point lead over Romney, who won the Colorado caucuses in 2008, revelers at the Christmas party weren’t buying it.

GOP activist Mary Wenke and Arapahoe County Commissioner Susan Beckman pause for a moment during the holiday party.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“Those aren’t the Republicans who are going to caucus,” said one Arapahoe resident, sweeping her hands to indicate her fellow Republicans and neighbors. “These are.”

To test that point, Republicans eagerly cast ballots in the night’s presidential straw poll. By no means a scientific survey — party-goers could buy as many ballots as they wanted, “just like they do it in Chicago,” cracked one of the straw poll’s organizers — the results nonetheless reinforced Romney’s strength among GOP stalwarts.

Tom Myers, state Rep. David Balmer and past Arapahoe County GOP Chair Nathan Chambers swap stories on Dec. 6 at the county party’s annual holiday party at the Cherry Creek Marina & Yacht Club.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

When it came time to announce the winner, a number of Arapahoe GOPers festooned in Romney stickers gathered ‘round to hear the news. The former U.S. House speaker — whose recent ascension left more than a few at the party to wonder whether the country had slipped into a time warp — trailed Romney 201-75, with the rest of the pack only registering in single digits. A cheer went up — at this party, at least, Gingrich had failed to steal Christmas.

Arapahoe County Treasurer Sue Sandstrom and District Attorney Carol Chambers pause near the entrance to the Arapahoe GOP’s Christmas party on Dec. 6 near the Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Arapahoe County GOP Chair Joy Hoffman, Dr. Pete Spence and his wife, state Sen. Nancy Spence, share some holiday laughter at the county party’s annual Christmas party at the Cherry Creek Marina & Yacht Club.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
LouGene Wolz and Tyler Q. Houlton, a veteran GOP operative currently working as president of Compass Colorado, take a breather from political talk for a moment during the Arapahoe County Republican Party’s Christmas party on Dec. 6.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Former Arapahoe County Republican chair Dave Kerber and former state Rep. and CU Regent Paul Schauer catch up at the Arapahoe County GOP’s holiday party on Dec. 6 on the shores of the Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Former Arapahoe County GOP chairs Bo and Lynn Cottrell visit with Aurora Councilman Bob LeGare, who returned to office in November after a spell off council, at the Arapahoe County GOP’s annual holiday party.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Presidential straw poll ballots are going like hotcakes at the Arapahoe County Republican Party annual holiday party on Dec. 6. Mitt Romney ran away with the straw poll, scoring more than twice as many votes as Newt Gingrich. None of the other contenders managed to get more than a handful of votes.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com