Super Tuesday is coming to Summit | SummitDaily.com

Super Tuesday is coming to Summit

HARRIET HAMILTON
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY ” This year’s presidential nomination races might be decided as early as Tuesday, and, for the first time in decades, Summit County voters will have the opportunity to participate.

Last year, state legislators voted to move the Colorado caucuses to Feb. 5, 2008 ” a date dubbed by the media as “Super Tuesday.” Voters in 23 other states will join Coloradoans that day to select roughly half the pledged delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

The Colorado caucus process is structured according to state law and requirements established by the two national parties. Because of the nature of this year’s contests and the earlier-than-usual date, both state parties expect record number of participants at their local caucuses.

The Summit County Democratic caucus will start on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near the County Commons for all 17 local precincts, with music and registration at 6 p.m. Only those registered as Democrats as of Dec. 5, 2007 will be permitted to vote at the caucus, but the event is open to the public, and party leaders encourage anyone interested to attend.

After a predetermined time for discussion, a “presidential preference” poll will be the evening’s next order of business. Once this vote is tallied, precincts will individually select delegates for the county assembly/convention scheduled for Feb. 25, which will then select delegates for both the May 10th 2nd congressional district convention/assembly and the state convention/assembly to be held May 16-17 in Colorado Springs.

The congressional district assembly will vote to approve candidates for the Aug. 12 primary ballot, and the state convention/assembly will do the same for the U.S. Senate race, in addition to selecting delegates for the Democratic National Convention to be held in Denver in August.

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Only two of the three Democrats vying for the 2nd congressional district seat are participating in the caucus process. Boulder conservationist Will Shafroth plans to collect petition signatures later this spring ” the same strategy that proved effective for the district’s incumbent Rep. Mark Udall, when he was first elected to the seat in 1998. The contest’s two other candidates ” former state Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald and Boulder businessman Jared Polis ” must each garner at least 30 percent of the votes at the district assembly/convention to win spots on the Aug. 12 primary ballot.

Colorado Democrats will send 70 delegates and nine alternates to the national presidential convention this year. Of those, 36 delegates and seven alternates will be determined at the district level. The remainder of the Colorado contingent will be made up of both “pledged” and “unpledged” party officials and at-large delegates selected at the state convention.

Although no delegates selected at any level are bound to any particular candidate, the state party is committed to having the district portion of its delegation represent a “fair reflection” of the sentiments of its precinct caucus voters.

Other business planned for Tuesday’s caucus includes a U.S. Senate “preference poll,” election of precinct committee representatives and election judges, and general debate on resolutions and platform issues.

Summit County Republicans will start their caucus at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Holiday Inn in Frisco for all 17 precincts. Rules for participation are the same as those for Democrats, but local Republican Party leaders have also stressed the event is open to observers.

Also like the Democrats, the precinct caucus will hold a “presidential preference” poll, the results of which will be released to the media Tuesday night.

Participants will then elect delegates to the Republican county convention/assembly, scheduled for March 1. Again, like the Democrats, delegates to the state convention/assembly and the district convention/assembly will be selected at the county meeting.

Of the 46 delegates Colorado will send to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in Sept. 21 will be chosen at the district level (three from each congressional district) and 22 at the state convention/assembly scheduled for May 31 in Broomfield.

Candidates for the Aug. 12 statewide primary will be designated at the appropriate level ” county, district or state ” at each respective assembly.

Democrats: Contact Sandy Briggs, County party chair, at (970) 389-0987 or HighCountryDem@aol.com locally, or visit http://www.coloradodems.org for general caucus information.

Republicans: Call (970) 453-2961 locally, or visit http://www.cologop.org for general caucus information.