EAGLE COUNTY — In our nation’s long march toward general elections, there’s often some winnowing to be done. That’s why we have primary elections.
When a political party has more than one candidate for an office, it’s time for a primary. In Eagle County, both Democrats and Republicans have a bit of work to do. This year, there are more contested seats on the “R” side of the ballot.
This year’s primary for the first time is in June. Primary elections used to be held in August, but officials in both parties asked for the change in order to give candidates more time to campaign for the general election.
Eagle County Democrats this year have the easiest job. The only contested position is a local one, for the Eagle County Board of Commissioners District 3 seat. That seat is currently held by Sara Fisher, who has been elected to two four-year terms. Term-limit laws prohibit her from running again.
All county voters elect all county commissioners, but District 3 represents, roughly, Gypsum and the Roaring Fork Valley.
The county Democrats’ caucus and county assembly process left two candidates seeking to replace Fisher — Pat Hammon and Jeanne McQueeney.
Whoever wins the primary will face Gypsum resident Dick Mayne in the November election.
Republicans have just one local race, too, for Eagle County Sheriff.
In that contest, incumbent Joe Hoy is being challenged by James van Beek. Hoy is a three-term incumbent — only county commissioners in Eagle County can serve only two terms. Running as an independent, van Beek challenged Hoy in 2010 and lost by fewer than 100 votes. Hoy earned the top line on this summer’s primary ballot by earning about 10 more votes than van Beek at the county Republicans’ assembly in the spring.
The primary winner will face Democrat Daric Harvey, a Vail police commander, in the fall.
Republicans also have a regional candidate to pick. When the house and senate districts for the Colorado Legislature were re-drawn after the 2010 census, the new 26th District in the Colorado House of Representatives was created and includes just Eagle and Routt counties. The first race for that seat was won in 2012 by Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs, who is running for re-election this year.
Republicans in the district this summer will choose between two Steamboat-area residents, Chuck McConnell, who ran and lost in 2012, and Dave Moloney.
The GOP this year also has a four-man field of candidates for governor. That group consists of former U.S. Representative Bob Beauprez. Another former congressman, Tom Tancredo, is running. Tancredo ran for governor in 2010 as a member of the American Constitution Party after Republican Dan Maes won the party primary. Tancredo earned more than 30 percent of the vote that year, more than tripling Maes’ vote total.
Former State Senator Mike Kopp is also seeking the nomination and so is current Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
The winner of that four-way contest will face incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper in November.
While the above are the most important choices facing county Republicans June 24, there are two other contested positions.
Scott Tipton, the incumbent in the Third Congressional District, which represents about two-thirds of Eagle County, is being challenged by David Cox.
Marcia Neal, the Third Congressional District incumbent on the State Board of Education, is being challenged by Barbara Ann Smith.
This year’s primary is a mail-in election. Most voters with a party affiliation who haven’t changed addresses since 2012 will get ballots in their mailboxes. Voters who need ballots, or who want to change their voter registration from “unaffiliated” to a specific party can get ballots from the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s offices in Eagle, Avon and El Jebel.