GOP dumps presidential preference poll | SteamboatToday.com

GOP dumps presidential preference poll

Local Republican official doubts change will affect caucus turnout

Chuck McConnell, former chairman and current member of Routt Country Republicans, was busy this week preparing for Tuesday's Republican precinct caucus. The caucus is set for 7 p.m. at various locations throughout the county.
John F. Russell

Routt County Republican Caucus locations

Steamboat Springs


• Precinct 3

Heritage Christian School, 27285 Brandon Circle

• Precinct 4

Jack and Geneva Taylor home, 31745 Soda Creek Road

• Precinct 6 and 7

Jim and Louise Brainard home, 32750 Routt County Road 35

• Precinct 11 and 12

Del Lockhart home, 1084 Village Lane

• Precinct 13, 14 and 16

Steamboat Christian Center, 821 Dougherty Road

• Precinct 15, 17 and 18

Historic Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

West Routt

• Precinct 2 and 5

Hayden High School, 495 W. Jefferson Ave, Hayden

South Routt

• Precincts 8 and 9

Oak Creek Town Hall, 129 Nancy Crawford Blvd., Oak Creek

• Precinct 10

Yampa Town Hall, 56 Lincoln Ave., Yampa

North Routt

• Precinct 1

Moon Hill School, 50710 Routt County Road 129, Clark

— Even though Colorado Republicans will not be voting for a Republican candidate for president during Super Tuesday’s precinct caucus, one local GOP official said he doesn’t expect the change to adversely affect turnout.

“Truth is, I think people are more motivated to take part if they’re going to have a say in a presidential race,” said Chuck McConnell, former chairman and current member of Routt County Republicans. “But I still feel like we’re going to have a big turnout.”

Routt County Republican Caucus locations

Steamboat Springs


• Precinct 3

Heritage Christian School, 27285 Brandon Circle

• Precinct 4

Jack and Geneva Taylor home, 31745 Soda Creek Road

• Precinct 6 and 7

Jim and Louise Brainard home, 32750 Routt County Road 35

• Precinct 11 and 12

Del Lockhart home, 1084 Village Lane

• Precinct 13, 14 and 16

Steamboat Christian Center, 821 Dougherty Road

• Precinct 15, 17 and 18

Historic Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

West Routt

• Precinct 2 and 5

Hayden High School, 495 W. Jefferson Ave, Hayden

South Routt

• Precincts 8 and 9

Oak Creek Town Hall, 129 Nancy Crawford Blvd., Oak Creek

• Precinct 10

Yampa Town Hall, 56 Lincoln Ave., Yampa

North Routt

• Precinct 1

Moon Hill School, 50710 Routt County Road 129, Clark

The Republican precinct caucus will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at various locations throughout the county (see box), and although no presidential preference poll will be taken, affiliated Republicans in attendance will still elect delegates and alternates to the subsequent county convention — the first step in picking the 37 delegates Colorado will send to the Republican National Convention, set for July 18 to 21 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Party members will also elect precinct committee officials.

Those who do not know their precinct number can find it by visiting govotecolorado.com or calling Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner.

The Colorado GOP’s decision against holding the traditional presidential preference poll came after a unanimous vote by the party’s executive committee last August. According to an article in the Denver Post, the executive committee’s decision was in response to a rule change by the national party, which requires a state’s delegates to support the candidate who wins the caucus vote.

Rather than have its delegates tied to a specific candidate — a candidate who could potentially have withdrawn from the race by July — the executive committee opted to scrap the caucus vote altogether, making Colorado the first state in the nation to do so.

This does not, however, mean that all delegates will be “free agents.”

McConnell said those vying to become one of the 17 delegates Routt County will send to the state convention may still commit to a particular candidate.

“If a delegate commits to vote for a candidate, they will vote for that candidate, as long as he’s still in the race,” McConnell said.

On the other hand, he said, potential delegates who are uncommitted may also be selected.

Taken together, this means Colorado’s delegation to the Republican National Convention will likely consist predominantly — or entirely — of uncommitted delegates.

McConnell agreed this change in dynamic alters Colorado’s role in the Republican presidential nomination process, but unlike some critics of the change, he does not think it renders the state irrelevant in terms of selecting the party’s eventual nominee.

Given the still-broad Republican field, it is possible the Republican National Convention will convene with no candidate having amassed the 1,237 delegates required for nomination, which would result in a brokered convention and make Colorado’s 37 uncommitted delegates significantly more important to the end game.

“The downside (to not having the presidential preference poll) is that we don’t get in on the early process,” McConnell said. “But if this becomes a brokered convention, it could make Colorado a swing state and a deciding factor in the nomination.”

Presidential politics aside, McConnell said Tuesday’s precinct caucus will also serve to elect delegates to the Colorado Senate District 8 Assembly and the House District 26 Assembly, as well as begin the process of winnowing a current field of eight potential GOP challengers for U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.

McConnell said only Republicans who have been affiliated with the party for at least 60 days and have been registered in their respective precincts for at least 30 days will be allowed to participate in Tuesday’s caucus, but he added anyone is welcome to attend and observe.

He also asked that attendees arrive by 6:15 p.m. so the caucus can begin promptly at 7 p.m.

To reach Jim Patterson, call 970-871-4208, email jpatterson@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JimPatterson15


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