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Local Republicans celebrate victory

Paul Shockley

Al White, winner in the race for state House District 57, seemed to put it best: “It’s a good night to be a Republican.”

Moffat County’s Republicans, following state and national returns, flexed their muscles in Tuesday’s general election, leaving disillusioned area Democrats scratching their heads and already talking about “next time.”

Altogether, 4,617 votes were cast in Moffat County Tuesday, of 9,243 registered voters in the county roughly a 50 percent turnout. That’s down from the 2000 general election when 5,386 voters cast ballots, or 59 percent of those registered.

Some 1,960 early or absentee votes were cast this year.

This, as voter registration had increased by 243 individuals from the previous general election.

While traditionally strong, Moffat County’s Republican Party chairman insisted nothing was taken for granted in this year’s vote.

“I did expect a strong showing on both sides,” said Tim Jantz, among numerous candidates and residents milling around the clerk and recorder’s office Tuesday night, as individual precinct returns were posted outside the commissioners’ office.

“People in Moffat County don’t strictly follow party lines,” he said.

But area voters towed the Republican line in all the individual state races.

U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) trounced Democrat Tom Strickland in every county precinct, taking 2,909 total votes as opposed to Strickland’s 1,364. Some 240 votes were divided up between three smaller party candidates, while nine votes were cast for Gary Cooper, a write-in Senate candidate.

U.S. House Rep. Scott McInnis topped Democratic rival Denis Berckefeldt, 3,574 to 793, while Gov. Bill Owens got a big Moffat County endorsement with 3,309 votes to 1,088 for his Democratic challenger, Rollie Heath.

Craig resident Terry Carwile didn’t fare much better with the area residents against Republican Al White, losing by 1,766 votes to 2,621

Tim Christensen, chairman of the Moffat County Democrats, searched for answers.

“I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get Democrats out,” he said. “Hello he’s (Carwile) one of us.”

Still, Christensen said the party would take what lessons can be gleaned from the election.

Registered Moffat County Democrats declined to 1,886 in this general election, as opposed to 1,966 in 2000, according to the clerk and recorder office. Republicans, meanwhile, increased voter registration to 4,800 from 4,431 over the same time period, while unaffiliated voters including those registered with smaller parties dropped to 2,557 this year from 2,628.

“We’re going to be back and then there will be a new season,” Christensen said. “No matter what, the candidates are winners because the people had a choice.”

Jantz praised the relatively clean campaigns run by both Moffat County Republicans and Democrats.

“I’m very proud of all the candidates who ran positive, professional races on both sides,” Jantz said, adding more praise for the way citizen’s voted.

“And I’m damn proud that I live in Moffat County.”

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.


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