Tom Gray and Saed Tayyara emerged from the Moffat County Republican Assembly Saturday as the front runners for county commissioner, but all the commissioner candidates received enough votes to get their names on the primary ballot.
In the District 1 race for commissioner, Gray received 84 votes from Moffat County Republican delegates and incumbent Commissioner Les Hampton received 49.
In the District 2 race, Tayyara received 91 votes and his opponent, Michael Anthony, received 42.
Candidates needed 30 percent of the total delegation's vote -- 40 votes -- to qualify for the primary ballot Aug. 10. Because Gray and Tayyara received the most votes, their names will be at the top of the ballot.
"I campaigned as hard as I could and I'm glad to be on the ballot," Gray said after the votes were counted. "I was gratified at the amount of people who thought I was a viable candidate."
As the delegates filed out of the Craig Intermediate School, many congratulated Gray on his strong showing, and other delegates told Hampton to hang in there, promising they'd get him re-elected.
"This simply means we are going to have an election," Hampton said.
This election is the first run for public office for Gray, the owner of a small cow-calf operation north of Craig. Hampton is seeking a second term as commissioner.
After the August primary, the winner of the Gray-Hampton contest will run against Democrat Terry Carwile for the District 1 commissioner seat.
Tayyara appeared thrilled after collecting the lion's share of the vote.
"It's an honor, the fact the community gave their vote of confidence. I will live up to their expectations like I did in the '70s," Tayyara said.
But Anthony remained reserved.
"My goal was to make sure I got on the ballot and that's what I accomplished," he said.
Tayyara is a former Craig mayor and city councilor who represented Craig in the late '70s and the 1980s. He is coming out of retirement to run for commissioner. Anthony is a Moffat County sheriff's deputy.
After the primary, either Tayyara or Anthony could face unaffiliated candidate Stan Hathhorn for the District 2 commissioner seat.
Because Hathhorn doesn't belong to a party, he'll need to petition on to the November ballot. Hathhorn previously said he would run for the seat, but has not responded to attempts to confirm his candidacy.
The county elected 16 state delegates to attend the Colorado Republican Convention the first weekend in June. There, Moffat County's state delegates will vote for the 3rd Congressional District and U.S. Senate candidates they want to see on the primary ballot.
Six other counties held Republican assemblies on Saturday, and the 3rd Congressional District candidates spread out across the Western Slope to garner support. Rep. Gregg Rippy, R-Aspen, said he chose to attend Moffat County's assembly because the county supported him the first time he ran for the Legislature, before redistricting removed the county from his area of representation.
"Four years ago I came here and asked you if I could be your representative for Moffat County. I'm back here again today to ask you to let me represent you in Washington," Rippy said.
If elected, Rippy said he would focus on natural resources issues. He commended the county commissioners for their work with U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, on the Healthy Veterans Act, which seeks to provide geographically isolated veterans with local health care.
Speaking on behalf of Congressional candidate Greg Walcher, Browns Park delegate T. Wright Dickinson told the assembly that Walcher, the former director of the state Department of Natural Resources, is the only candidate with the experience and knowledge to succeed McInnis, who represented the Western Slope in Washington D.C. for 12 years.
State Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, attended the assembly to garner support for his re-election bid to state senate.
Taylor is running against Democrat Jay Fetcher, a rancher from Clark.
"Experience counts," Taylor said. "You need the ability to go across the aisle and that doesn't come overnight. You have to gain respect before you can build coalitions."
Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, is up for reelection to the statehouse, but he's currently running unopposed. He spent his time speaking in support of Taylor.
"If I had any success it's largely due to Jack Taylor," White said. White succeeded Taylor as a state representative, and he counted on the senator to provide him with contacts and mentoring when in Denver.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.