Politicos gear up for caucuses

Douglas Wellman has been to more precinct caucuses than he can remember.

Since 1960, the 75-year-old Republican has been to every caucus he could attend.

"If I missed one, I didn't know I missed it," Wellman said.

This year's precinct caucuses are Tuesday. The 13 precinct caucuses are the start of the political season.

At the caucuses, registered Republicans and Democrats elect delegates to represent them at the party assemblies. At the assemblies, the delegates decide who will move on to the primary ballot.

Caucuses are open to the public, but only people who have been registered with their respective political parties for 30 days can vote for delegates.

Many voters think voting in only the primary or the general election is enough to fulfill their civic duties. But for diehard caucus attendees like Wellman, voting in August and November isn't enough.

"You don't get a chance to be in the process of picking the candidates you're going to vote for," Wellman said.

But attendance at the caucuses is usually low.

Lila Herod, chief deputy clerk and recorder, said even in the biggest precincts in Moffat County, 50 people is high attendance.

"Locally, it depends on what kind of races we have," Herod said.

If candidates encourage people to attend, then more people will, she said.

The Clerk and Recorder's Office will help voters find which of the 13 precinct caucuses they are supposed to attend, Herod said.

Not all candidates have to go through the caucuses to get on the primary ballot.

Candidates also can petition their way onto the primary ballot.

The only candidate who plans to skip the caucuses this year is Tom Mathers, who is running for county commissioner as a Republican.

When Mathers announced his candidacy, he said he would skip the caucuses because he entered the race later than the other two Republicans running for commissioner, Vicki Burns and Dan W. Martin.

Vic Alton also will not be involved in the caucuses because he is running for Moffat County sheriff as an independent.

"I think they are an important part of any campaign," Alton said of the caucuses.

But as an independent, Alton won't have the chance to participate.

The other two sheriff candidates, Jerry Hoberg and Tim Jantz, are both Republicans and plan to participate in the caucuses.

The main purpose of the caucuses is electing the delegates, Herod said, but the caucuses are also a chance to get together with neighbors and talk about politics.

"It's just a neighborhood get-together," Herod said.

Wellman said the chance to talk politics with his neighbors is one of his favorite parts of the caucuses.

"No. 1, I like politics," Wellman said. "And, it's fun."

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