Caucuses exhibits grassroots energy in Summit County |

Caucuses exhibits grassroots energy in Summit County

summit daily news
Special to the Daily State Sen. Dan Gibbs and State House Rep. Christine Scanlan address the crowd at the Democrats' caucus Tuesday night.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Local Democrats and Republicans officially kicked off the 2010 races Tuesday night and conducted straw polls – with results differing slightly from state averages.

The Democrats here favored Andrew Romanoff for U.S. Senate while the Republicans cast the most votes for Jane Norton. The Republicans were most supportive of Scott McInnis for governor.

Local representatives of both parties said they were pleased with the participation of 106 Democrats and 88 Republicans in a non-presidential election year.

“I was glad to see the turnout,” said State House incumbent Democrat Christine Scanlan, who is running to keep her seat. “You never know with caucuses.”

But Summit County Republicans vice chair Lisa Knobel said the “grassroots” event could be even more effective if more people registered with a party.

“Right now, unaffiliateds outnumber people in every party,” she said. “Stand up, be a leader, pick a side and go to caucus.”

She said it was evident by Tuesday’s results that people in both major political parties are dissatisfied with front-runners.

“That’s where the grassroots make the difference,” she said. “People don’t realize how accessible politics is and how to become involved and have a say in what happens.”

Summit County’s active voters who participated in the 2008 election include 5,075 Democrats, 4,268 Republicans and 7,268 unaffiliated voters.

Across Colorado, 21,693 Democrats and 25,341 Republicans participated in their local caucuses.

The results were similar to those of Summit County, except that in the statewide tally Ken Buck edged out Jane Norton 37.9 percent to 37.7 percent.

To date, no Democrat has stepped up to challenge Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to take the seat of Gov. Bill Ritter.

The selection of nominees is made at the Aug. 10 primaries, and caucus success in Colorado historically hasn’t always influenced the nominations several months later.

Summit County Democrats chair Lucinda Burns said the caucus turnout “wasn’t anywhere near as large” as 2008, but there were “a lot of enthused participants.”

“The Democrats are lucky to have two excellent candidates running for U.S. Senate,” she said.

Knobel said the Republican caucus included many people involved with the Tea Party movement who helped to “engergize people and give focus” to the event.

“There were a lot of new faces out (there),” she said. “People are fired up and ready to see some change happen.”

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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