'Blue wave' sweeping Colorado, affecting regional, local races
October 31, 2008 —
Even as national polls appear to be tightening, Sen. Barack Obama seems to be running away with Colorado.
Obama is leading in Colorado by 10 points, according to a Public Policy Polling report released early this morning. The news of his lead is coupled with information from the Secretary of State’s office that about 1.3 million Coloradans have already voted this year, which is about 60 percent of the total votes cast in the 2004 general election.
Democrat Mark Udall also appears on course for victory. He now leads Bob Schaffer 56-41 in the race to join Democrat Ken Salazar in the U.S. Senate. Salazar beat Pete Coors to win Colorado’s other Senate seat in 2004.
Reliable polling data isn’t available in the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat, but Republicans report their candidate, engineer Scott Starin, has been given a limited amount of funding in his race against millionaire Democrat Jared Polis. The lack of funding is an indication that Republicans aren’t pouring a lot of money into the traditionally Democratic 2nd CD.
The news on all fronts has some Republicans worried that local Democrats will ride the momentum of the larger, national races to victory.
“We think we can hold our own,” said Eagle County Republican Party Chairman Randy Milhoan. “We also think there’s a chance for a blue wave coming across the entire state. That’s pretty much what happened in the last election. We’re hoping not.”
Milhoan, a long-time Republican and 40-year Vail Valley resident, said he has never seen such an energetic campaign season on both sides of the aisle. Colorado’s status as a battleground state, he said, is a leading cause of the state’s heightened political awareness.
“There’s also a lot of disaffection with the Bush administration right now and it’s created a lot of energy, especially among Democrats,” he said. “So we’ve had to rally back as hard as we can.”
The Republicans have set up a campaign office in Eagle – only a few blocks away from their opponents' Obama/Udall campaign headquarters. The “clubhouse” atmosphere, and help from a McCain national campaign staffer, have helped add a charge to the Republican movement in Eagle County, Milhoan said.
Nonetheless, Republicans in the Rockies seem drowned in a blue deluge – and many are calling for the party to re-examine its campaign principles and methods.
“I think it would be a good idea to look at what we’ve done and what we haven’t done and where we should go,” Milhoan said. “I’m hoping we can make it happen, both locally and at the national level.”
While he admits the Republican party has issues, Milhoan thinks the Obama campaign deserves a closer look, too.
“Barack Obama has raised over $100 million that is totally untraceable,” he said. “I could be a union, I could be a corporation, I could be a terrorist. I could buy prepaid credit cards and give them to my associates and they could donate. And it’s amounted to over $100 million, and I think it’s a travesty. I think it's pathetic is what I think it is.”
In the near hysteria that precedes a national election, however, Milhoan agreed there isn’t time right now to investigate Obama’s campaign rund-raising strategies.
For now, Eagle County Republicans are focused on holding back the blue tide on behalf of county commissioner candidates Debbie Buckley and Dick Gustafson, hoping the Democratic flood doesn’t sweep Democratic candidates Jon Stavney and Peter Runyon into office.
For more information on Eagle County Republicans, call their office at (970) 328-3049 or visit www.eaglecountyrepublicans.org.
For more on Eagle County Democrats, call their office at (970) 328-3888 or visit www.eagledems.org.
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