EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - It's official: Eagle County is as blue as the mountains on a cold can of Coors Light.
In what seems fairly ancient history, Eagle County was pretty reliably Republican, with a few conservative Democrats elected for good measure. Over the years, though, Democrats have gained an ever-stronger grip on county politics. That trend continued Tuesday, with only one Republican - University of Colorado Board of Regents candidate Glenn Gallegos - carrying most of the county's votes.
The rest of the county voted Democratic, and with margins ranging from "solid" to "overwhelming."
Gypsum resident Carole Onderdonk has been involved with the county's Democratic leadership since she moved to the area several years ago. She said she believes local Dems' dominance is fairly easy to explain:
"It's because our candidates are more reasonable, they're not extreme, and they have a solid program."
But there's another factor at work: A lot of county voters are marking their ballots for anyone with a "D" next to their name.
Dale Nelson, who ran an independent campaign this fall for county commissioner, said he ran into a lot of "straight-ticket" voters while he was knocking on doors around the area this fall.
Longtime local Republican party official Randy Milhoan said he believes a lot of those straight-ticket voters are younger. Milhoan, who roamed around the valley as a poll-watcher Tuesday, said he first believed his party's candidates were in trouble when he noticed the number of young people voting in Vail.
"They wanted to vote for (President Barack) Obama and legalized marijuana," Milhoan said.
Add to that throng the fact that the western portion of Eagle County is nearly as Democratic-leaning as Aspen - where Obama carried Pitkin County with about 70 percent of the vote - and Milhoan believes local Republican candidates are in trouble for the foreseeable future.
"Every low-lying valley in the mountain west has become more Democratic because of people moving in from other places," Milhoan said. "I thought we had good candidates this year," added. "I thought we'd do really well."
That didn't happen.
Beyond her own political preference, Onderdonk was at something of a loss to explain Democrats' recent success in the county.
"We certainly encourage people to vote a straight ticket, but I never ask about it, and we certainly don't advertise that way."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.