High turnout for Moffat County GOP precinct caucuses

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Moffat County residents took part in Tuesday night’s Republican Party precinct caucuses, which were touted as the most attended caucuses in recent memory.

“There was a large turnout throughout the county, which is very good,” said Rick Barnes, former Precinct 1 co-chairperson and candidate for Moffat County Commission District 2. “At our precinct if we had had another 15 people show, they would have been looking for a bigger room at (Ridgeview Elementary) for us. We were packed.”

Audrey Danner, a registered Republican in Precinct 1 and commission District 2 incumbent, was also encouraged by the turnout.

“Forrest Luke and Rick Barnes ran a good session,” Danner said. “It was definitely one of the larger turnouts for that precinct.”

Precinct caucuses are the most grassroots level of the political process in the state, said KC Hume, Moffat County Republican Party chairman.

The primary purpose is to elect delegates to represent the respective precincts at the March 24 Moffat County Republican Party Assembly, scheduled to take place at Sandrock Elementary School.

The total number of delegates the county is allowed to elect increased this year to 94, four more than the 2010 caucuses.

Hume believes the increase in delegates is a good sign for local members because the number of delegates a precinct can elect is based off 2 percent of the total number of registered Republicans in that precinct.

“In other words, the fact that we have four more delegates overall than two years ago means we have more registered Republicans now than we did in 2010,” Hume said. “I think that is good news for the county.”

The 2-percent formula is applied to all 12 Moffat County precincts, meaning certain precincts are permitted more delegates than others.

For example, Precinct 9 Republicans elected nine delegates to the county assembly. Precinct 1 filled 19 slots.

The names and final results of those elections were not available, said Hume, who is processing that information.

In addition to electing delegates to the county assembly, precinct goers took part in a nonbinding, statewide presidential preference poll.

According to the Colorado Republican Party website, Rick Santorum carried the state, garnering support from 26,614 voters, or 40.31 percent, out of a total of 66,027 voters.

Mitt Romney came in second with 23,012 votes, or 34.85 percent. Newt Gingrich came in third followed by Ron Paul, who netted 8,445 and 7,759 votes, respectively.

Despite losing the statewide “straw” poll, Romney received good support from Northwest Colorado Republicans, carrying Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Jackson counties, receiving an average of 42.17 percent of the votes.

About 218 of those Northwest Colorado votes were tallied in Moffat County. Romney received 122 of them, or 43.26 percent. Santorum picked up 87, or 30.85 percent.

Paul came in third with 42 votes, 14.89 percent, followed by Gingrich with 29, or 10.28 percent.

Romney was also the popular choice among voters in Denver, Douglas, Boulder, Clear Creek, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Jefferson, Alamosa and Conejos counties.

Chuck Grobe, a member of Precinct 9 and a candidate for the county commission’s District 2 seat, attributes Romney’s support in Northwest Colorado to hardline Republican values.

“I think you can look at Minnesota and Missouri also,” Grobe said. “I think when you get into the Midwest, you get a little more mainline conservative stance among Republicans, unlike a more moderate viewpoint that seems to appeal to Santorum supporters.”

Danner, who said she hasn’t yet decided on a presidential candidate, doesn’t put a lot of stock in the preference poll, considering it just a general feeling of where the state currently stands.

“Romney is certainly a viable candidate,” Danner said. “But it was a nonbinding vote and although it gives us an idea of where we’re heading, we’re a long ways from November.”

Gingrich netted one county victory, edging out Santorum 25 votes to 22 in Bent County.

Paul was unable to carry the majority in any of Colorado’s 64 counties.

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