Vail Daily’s View: Reading primary’s tea leaves
August 11, 2010
So the picture clears, a bit, with Colorado politics.
About a quarter of Eagle County’s eligible voters participated — presumably the most motivated and partisan people considering that they were voting for their party’s nominees in key state and one local race.
In that local race, Sheriff Joe Hoy took 55 percent of the vote to end Deputy Charles Wolf’s insurgent bid for the Republican nomination for Hoy’s job. The Democrats didn’t field a candidate for sheriff.
But unaffiliated James Van Beek waits in the wings for the fall face-off. Van Beek was a deputy and investigator in the Sheriff’s Office for a dozen years before serving since 2000 in the Balkans and Afghanistan in law enforcement. In any case, game on.
The tea party darlings — Ken Buck for Senate and Dan Maes for governor — won in the statewide Republican primaries. And the “establishment” guy, incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet won in the feisty Senate race for the Democrats.
All the insults and innuendos, all the exaggerations and rhetoric the primary candidates hurled at one another are all forgotten in the name of party unity. We shouldn’t even pretend surprise at how the drama changed scenes so quickly, by Tuesday night bitter foes were best friends again.
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In Eagle County, this was solid Bennet country for the Democrats, somewhat surprisingly because Andrew Romanoff is well known here and has been involved for years with Eagle County. Bennet is the appointed — some say anointed — guy who may not have known where Eagle County was before Gov. Ritter appointed him.
Scott McInnis took 56 percent of Eagle County Republicans’ votes, but had his humiliation completed statewide as Dan Maes nosed him out for the Republican nomination for governor. Seems just enough people were disgusted by the McInnis’s plagiarism that a promising candidacy in a favorable time for Republicans quickly went off the tracks.
To ensure there is no Republican moving to the governor’s mansion after Nov. 2, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is running a third party candidacy guaranteed to split the conservative vote. Hello Gov. Hickenlooper. He knows his way to Vail, having been here a few times to meet and greet and fundraise.
Too bad for the Republicans on that one. Another interesting sign in the election returns, at least for Eagle County, is that the GOP voters clearly were more motivated to vote. For every position where a Republican and Democrat are seeking the same office, the Republican side had at least 300 more votes. If they were counted head to head, the Republicans would win the slate with 55 percent margins or better.
But that’s just a curiosity at this point. It’s the Nov. 2 vote that counts. And, of course, that’s when the unaffiliated join with the loosely affiliated who double or more the turnout.
Will Colorado become the center of the tea party, or reinforce the Obama change that swept our state and nation just two years ago?
These are two very different paths. Buckle up. It should be a pretty interesting fall.