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Democrat assembly gathers faithful

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE – The faithful gathered in Eagle Tuesday for a little old-fashioned stumping and politicking.Local Democrats held their county assembly Tuesday, to hear from state and local candidates, talk about what they believe, and to talk trash about Republicans. The people who came were selected at neighborhood caucuses last month.Fred Schmidt of Eagle, a life-long Democrat went to his first neighborhood caucus last month. He said then it was time to get involved in decisions that affect his life. To do that, he spoke up, and was sent to the county assembly.”The only way to get involved is to jump in,” he said. A personal jump-start Julia Foster of Avon grew up in a political house. Growing up in New York City, her father was an assistant to then-mayor Abe Beame. Like many people, her own decision to get involved in party politics was fueled by personal interest.Foster recently went to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress about requiring insurance companies to cover infertility treatments.

“It affects one in eight couples,” she said. That trip, though, encouraged her to get involved.”There are too many old men in politics,” she said. “We need more women involved.”On a local level, Foster said she’s now fired up enough to work for candidates she believes in.That was music to Steve Ludwig’s ears. And it’s why the Denver resident and candidate for an at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents is putting a lot of miles on the family buggy this spring.”I’m trying to make it to as many non-Front Range county assemblies as I can,” Ludwig said. “I went to the assemblies in Gunnison and Saguache counties last weekend.”The reason, he said, is to drum up people like Foster both for support at the state assembly in May, and if he needs help with mailing and phone banks as the election gets closer.

Room full of activists”I want to meet activists,” he said. “It’s important to get out and get their support.”And many, if not most of the people who participate in this very early part of the political season are activists.”I don’t think the average Democrat is here,” said Jacque Whitsitt of Basalt. She should know, she’s been to plenty of caucuses and assemblies. Whitsitt has been a town board member in Basalt, is now a member of the Eagle County Home Rule Commission, and ran for county commissioner in 1998.”I came tonight because Sara asked me to nominate her,” Whitsitt said, referring to county commissioner candidate Sara Fisher of Gypsum. She also came, she said, because the assembly is such a basic level of politics.”This is really grassroots politics,” she said.But the fact that activists nominate candidates has led to criticism that candidates have to run hard to the left or right to get their parties’ nomination, then run just as hard back to the center for the November elections.



“Yeah, maybe” there’s some truth to that criticism, she said. But the faithful weren’t much worried about the center Tuesday.Fern O’Brien, the party’s candidate for Attorney General, spoke about prosecuting “price-gouging” gas retailers. She also accused current Attorney General John Suthers, who was appointed to the job by Gov. Bill Owens, of being in the pocket of the governor and “wealthy insiders.”Those and other comments drew loud applause.Danny Padnick of Vail was one of those applauding.”I just wanted to have my voice heard,” Padnick said. “This is a way to do that.”Vail, Colorado


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