Want to caucus in the Vail Valley? You need to declare a party affiliation soon
Feb. 5: You must be registered to vote at an address in the precinct you’ll caucus in.
March 6: County caucus night.
June 26: State party primaries.
Nov. 6: Election Day.
EAGLE COUNTY — If you want good candidates for office, then you need to get involved early to choose them. Early involvement starts next week.
Monday, Jan. 8, is the deadline to be registered to vote and declare a party affiliation if you want to participate in the March county caucus meetings. You must be registered to vote as either a Democrat or Republican to participate in those meetings.
Those meetings are perhaps the most basic level of party politics in Colorado. People who attend learn about candidates and talk about issues. People who attend caucus meetings also choose delegates for the March county assembly meetings. That’s where candidate-picking starts to get serious.
At the county and regional levels, Democrats have the easiest job picking candidates, since that party has the most incumbents. State Senator Kerry Donovan intends to run for a second term representing Senate District 5.
Newly-appointed State Representative Dylan Roberts will run to represent House District 26, which is all of Eagle and Routt counties.
At the county level, Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney is likely to seek another term.
Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Regina O’Brien, who was appointed to the job in January of 2017, is likely to seek election to the job.
Eagle County Treasurer Teak Simonton, the former clerk and recorder, was elected to replace former treasurer Karen Shaefer, who resigned in 2016.
Simonton is expected to seek a full term in office in November.
Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin is also expected to seek another term in office.
On the Republican side, Sheriff James van Beek is expected to seek a second term in office.
While county commissioners and state representatives are subject to term limits, county voters several years ago lifted term limits from other county offices.
Those will be easy choices for party members. Harder choices will come in state races and races in Eagle County’s two federal House of Representatives offices.
The county assemblies in March will select candidates to April’s state party assemblies. At those meetings, parties will determine candidates for a number of offices, and determine who makes the party primary ballots in June. There’s a lot going on in those state and federal races.
A number of candidates in both major parties hope to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will leave because of term limits.
That open seat has created a lot of action.
On the Republican side, gubernatorial candidates include current Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and former congressional Representative Tom Tancredo.
On the Democratic side, Jared Polis, who’s now the representative for Colorado’s Second Congressional District, is running for Governor. So are former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy and former State Senator Mike Johnston, a Vail native and current Denver-area resident.
Polis’ entry into the governor’s race has prompted a number of people, mostly Democrats, to seek the Second District job. That district includes most of Boulder and Larimer counties, with Boulder and Fort Collins as the biggest cities in that district. But the district also covers the eastern part of Eagle County.
The remainder of Eagle County is in the 3rd Congressional District. That district covers most of the Western Slope. The district is currently represented by Republican Scott Tipton, of Cortez.
Former State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat, is seeking to unseat Tipton. So is Glenwood Springs Democrat Ken Hamlin.
It all starts with the party-declaration deadline on Monday, Jan. 8.
Understand the Process
Kaye Ferry, chairwoman of Eagle County’s Republican Party, said people who want better candidates for office need to take some time and help that process.
Too many people don’t pay enough attention, Ferry said. “They don’t know how the process works,” she added.
When asked to participate, many people say they don’t have the time.
“Anybody who tells me they can’t go to two or three meetings a year, it’s (nonsense),” Ferry said. “Everybody has three hours a year.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.