Political ‘game on’ in Breckenridge
Ryan Summerlin September 13, 2012
BRECKENRIDGE – With less than two months left until Election Day, both political parties are firing on all cylinders in Summit County, and this week, Breckenridge became the battleground.
The Summit County GOP opened a new field office – its first in recent memory – on Main Street Wednesday afternoon, beating the Obama campaign to the punch, although the Democratic party does have a headquarters in Silverthorne.
The offices serve as community outreach hubs for their respective parties, and indicate the growing momentum of the race in Summit County.
“Game on,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, a Democrat.
Although unaffiliated voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans almost two to one, Summit County has long leaned to the left when it comes to election results.
But this year the local GOP seems to be preparing to make a stand in November, increasing activities and visibility across the county through the election season.
“I do think that the Republicans are a little more energized,” GOP voter and Breckenridge resident Eric Buck said. “The focus is to pick up those unaffiliateds. You’ve got those who’ve made up their minds and it’s a matter now of getting those swing votes that will make the difference.”
Local Republican officials are countering the Democrats’ campaign work – currently centered at Obama’s first office in Silverthorne – with events and offices of their own.
The new GOP election headquarters – a space on North Main Street, hung with party slogans and candidate signs – will host the Romney campaign bus on Sunday morning and ongoing socials, meet-and-greets and other events in the coming weeks.
Summit County Democrats, on the other hand, hold the upper hand when it comes to numbers, making up 27 percent of registered voters this year, up from 24 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, local Democrats say their enthusiasm for the president hasn’t waned in the last four years.
“I think Summit County, at least in my sphere of observation, is Democratic,” former Breckenridge councilman and Democrat Jeffrey Bergeron said. “The convention, if anything, just made us more enthused. There’s a lot of political involvement in Summit County. Those of us that have the time and money give both, and those that have one or the other give what they can.”
The increasing political action in Summit County has been warmly received by voters on both sides, who say it’s healthy.
Both parties have strong local representation in regional and statewide races.
Breckenridge Democrat Emily Tracy will face off against GOP candidate Randy Baumgardner, of Hot Sulpher Springs, for the state Senate District 8 seat.
The race for state House District 61 will pit Breckenridge Republican Debra Irvine against Rep. Millie Hamner, a Democrat from Dillon, as well as two non-local third- party candidates.
Local deputy district attorney Scott Turner, a Republican, is challenging Evergreen Democrat Bruce Brown for the top prosecutor job for the 5th Judicial District. Brown also lived in Summit County in the past.