by Lisa Cyriacks
Two years ago, Democratic precinct caucuses drew crowds to choose between Obama and Clinton supporters.  Less than a month from now, smaller crowds are expected to choose between U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a closely run race for the party’s nomination to run in November for the U.S. Senate seat that Bennet now holds.
Republicans meet that same night to start selecting their party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate race among Former Lt. Governor Jane Norton, former State Senator Tom Weins, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, businessman Cleve Tidwell, and patent attorney Steve Barton. The field of Republican hopefuls has expanded since Ken Salazar, considered a strong favorite for re-election to a second term, stepped into Secretary of the Interior and put the seat in play.
In what will likely be the most expensive campaign (more than $20 million) ever waged in Colorado, national Republicans, for their part, hope for the chance to reverse a string of Democratic victories in Colorado. They are hoping that this election year with a sour economy and the possible frustration with ruling Democrats could tilt the state. Democrats, in turn, are anxious to hold the seat and, with it, a chance at keeping a majority in a Senate politically divided along party lines.
Local precinct caucuses
Saguache County voters will be convening in caucuses all around the county.  Crestone’s Democratic Caucus will be held at the POA Hall at 7pm.  Republicans in Crestone can caucus at Moffat
School.  To find other precinct caucus locations around the county, please contact your party chairs:  Richard Drake (R) at 580-3478, or Randy Arredondo (D) at 719-221-2709.
Precincts are the smallest political unit in the state. There are nine precincts in Saguache County and close to 4,000 precincts in Colorado. Anyone is welcome to attend the caucus, but must have been a registered voter and affiliated with the party of their choice in their precinct no later than February 15, 2010. There are two exceptions: if you turn 18, or become a U.S. citizen during the two-month period prior to the caucuses.
At every caucus, the general agenda is the same:  elect a Chair to run the meeting and a Secretary to record the proceedings of the caucus; elect two precinct committee people to represent the precinct on the Party’s County Central Committee; elect delegates to the County Assembly; introduce, debate and approve or reject resolutions and platform issues.
There will be debate on the proposals as well as a vote. If the item is approved, it will be passed on the county platform committee, which will discuss incorporating into the county platform. Not all items will end up in the County Platform or the State Platform.
To participate in the Saguache County Democratic Assembly, which will be held on Sunday, April 11 at the Saguache Community Building, 525 Seventh Street, Saguache, you must attend and participate at the Caucus.  The Assembly will start with a potluck at noon and the meeting will follow.
Who’s running for election?
John Salazar (D), 3rd Congressional District is facing a re-match with Scott Tipton (R).  Tipton was defeated in the 2006 campaign by Salazar.  A second Republican, Bob McConnell, attorney from Steamboat Springs is also running in District 3.
So far, the state gubernatorial race has turned out the most surprises for 2010.  Early withdrawal of incumbent Bill Ritter and state Senator Josh Penry, heretofore a GOP rising star, were real stunners. The race for governor now boils down to a battle between Republican candidates Scott McInnis, former 3rd Congressional District representative, and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes for the chance at challenging Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a moderate Democrat with a base of built-in business support.
Hickenlooper (D), a former petroleum geologist turned business entrepreneur is currently Mayor of Denver. His reputation is for being a sharp and innovative businessman. The Democratic Party believes that a Hickenlooper governorship will be good for the Colorado economy, attracting new businesses and bring innovative companies and high-paying jobs to the state.
The Republican Party is hoping to turn the governor’s race into a referendum on Obama, citing the economic recession and the drastic measures taken by the Democrats to balance the budget as no longer being attractive to cross-over Republican and independent voters who turned Colorado blue in 2008.
McInnis, campaigning on a Platform for Prosperity, has vowed that, if elected governor, he will stimulate job growth in the oil and gas industry by rolling back regulations, cut the state budget, invest in roads and bridges, create more opportunities for higher education and workforce training and establish a “rainy day” fund.  He also promised to keep taxes low—and to abide by the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, which requires voter approval of tax increases.
Both House District 60 incumbents Tom Massey (R) and Senate District 5 Gail Schwartz (D) are up for re-election.  Massey faces one opponent so far, Libertarian Christine Smith.
On the local level most county officials are up for re-election.  Incumbent County Sheriff Mike Norris (D) will be facing a Republican challenger, former Deputy Richard Pascoe. Other incumbents running include Connie Trujillo (R) for County Treasurer, Jackie Stephens (D) for County Assessor, and Tom Perrin (D) for County Coronor.
County Commissioner Linda Joseph (D) may be in a primary run-off with Saguache native, Tim Lovato, also a Democrat.  County Clerk Melinda Myers (D) is facing two opponents from her own party—Tina Serna and Christina Wilson—which will result in a primary.