How Eagle County voted: Blue wave mirrors state trend

County voters go the other way than the state totals on wolf reintroduction, however

Voter polling in Avon shows varying levels of support for four separate taxes under consideration.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily Archive

Joe Biden on Wednesday night held slim leads in key states in the razor-thin race for the presidency, but in Eagle County, the result was never in question. Local voters punched the ticket for the former vice president by a margin of nearly 2-1 with the Democrat claiming 64% of the county vote compared to Donald Trump’s 34%.

Results remain unofficial.

Maybe the most surprising thing among the local presidential results is that 74 Eagle County residents voted for Kanye West, who ran as an unaffiliated candidate.

A big blue wave

Locally, Tuesday was a big night for Democrats, mirroring a trend at the state level.

For the first time since 1936, when Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt claimed a sweeping re-election win with 523 electoral votes, Democrats control every statewide elected office, both chambers of the state legislature, both U.S. Senate seats and the balance of the state’s U.S. House delegation.

Support Local Journalism

Biden won Colorado’s nine electoral votes with ease, unofficially claiming 56% of the vote with the race being called early Tuesday night. 

Local Republicans could find solace in Lauren Boebert’s victory in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race — becoming the first woman to hold the seat in the sprawling, red-leaning district — and the passage of Proposition 116, which will drop the state’s income tax from 4.63% to 4.55%.

“The county was a bright spot for Democrats,” said Melissa Decker, the chairwoman of the Eagle County Democrats. “A real strong performance. A little sad about how CD-3 went, but not entirely unanticipated.”

‘Not giving up on Colorado’

Kaye Ferry, the chairwoman of the Eagle County Republican Party, said she believes it’s time for the party faithful to be more stalwart in their actions.

“Republicans need to start being Republicans,” Ferry said. “They need to wear it on their sleeve. In doing so, we have the ability to change things. Hiding is not the way to change anything.”

Ferry added it’s “unfortunate the way the state of Colorado has gone.” She noted the state was a pretty conservative place when she moved here from Illinois.

While disappointed in the results, Ferry said she’s “Not giving up on Colorado, and I’m certainly not going to give up on Eagle County.”

Decisive margins

At the county level, Democrats won every single race, with incumbent county commissioners Kathy Chandler-Henry and Matt Scherr claiming decisive victories over Tom Crisofulli and Jennifer Woolley. Chandler-Henry won nearly 63% of the District 2 vote while Scherr won nearly 61% of the vote in District 1.

“I just think the electors saw the great job they did during COVID-19,” Decker said. “There’s rarely been a period in our county’s history that’s demanded more on a public health scale. They were up to the challenge. That’s what got them reelected.”

Even more decisive: Heidi McCollum, running for district attorney, and Dylan Roberts, running for District 26, claiming uncontested wins.

McCollum becomes the first female to ever hold the top prosecutor’s role in the 5th Judicial District, which encompasses Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. Roberts said it was a relatively stress-free election night with his win all but assured.

“Well, I’m very happy and heartened to receive the confidence of Eagle and Routt counties to serve them in a second term,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to work at the Capitol on the economy and the coronavirus.”

County voters also overwhelmingly supported Democrats Diane Mitsch Bush and Mayling Simpson.

Mitsch Bush conceded the 3rd Congressional District race to Boebert early Wednesday with Boebert claiming 51% of the vote in the district, but in Eagle, County Mitsch Bush won 60% of local votes.

Simpson lost to Republican incumbent Joyce Rankin in the race for the state board of education in the 3rd Congressional District but she won 57% of the local vote in Eagle County. Democrat Joe Neguse also won 65% of Eagle County votes en route to decisively beating Republican Charlie Winn in the 2nd Congressional District to hold onto his seat. Neguse claimed nearly 61% of the votes in the district.

And Democrat John Hickenlooper, the former governor, also cleaned up in Eagle County in his Senate race with Cory Gardner, claiming 62% of local votes to Gardner’s 36%. Statewide, Hickenlooper won 54% of votes.

Not howling over wolves

Colorado’s wolf reintroduction ballot initiative remains too close to call, with the race still within 1 percentage point with votes still being counted Wednesday. Wolf supporters were outpolling those opposed to Proposition 114 by 1,461,335 votes to 1,445,891 statewide, but in Eagle County, the initiative was losing with nearly 54% of local voters opposed to the initiative.

Colorado voters on Tuesday approved Amendment B, a repeal of the state’s Gallagher Amendment, by a 57% to 43% margin. In Eagle County, voters approved the amendment by nearly 64 percent, but voters in Eagle and Avon also voted down local Gallagher questions.

A win for election transparency

If there was one thing that both parties could agree on Wednesday in the aftermath of Election Day, it was that Eagle County and Colorado knows how to hold safe, transparent mail-in elections.

Ferry praised Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien.

“We’re lucky to live in Eagle County,” she said. “Our elections are honest, and well-run. (O’Brien) is as good a clerk and recorder as there is. It’s a relief to know our votes are counted the way they’re supposed to be.”

O’Brien, reached while driving back from the El Jebel voting location on Wednesday, said Tuesday’s voting for those who didn’t turn in ballots early was “paced but not crazy.”

As of Monday night, 73 percent of active registered voters had already turned in their ballots,

“That’s really good,” O’Brien said. “Typically, 30-40 percent of voters vote on Election Day.”

She added: “It was a very clean election. I was very proud of Eagle County from voters, election judges, poll watchers in every facet of the election process. Everybody was respectful, enthusiastic and really pleasant. It was a very positive experience all around.”

As for turnout, O’Brien said the ballots that have already been counted constitute 85% of active registered voters and that with ballots still set to be scanned up to nine days after the election, the turnout might yet break a record for a presidential election year.

The 2008 election had 91% turnout, followed by 94% in 2012 and 83% in 2016.

Chris Freud and Scott Miller contributed reporting.

Support Local Journalism