Top 10 news stories, No. 9: General election dominates public debate
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
From the beginning of the year when candidates began announcing their intent, to Nov. 30, when District Attorney Martin Beeson conceded his race, the 2012 general election dominated public debate in Garfield County.
A highlight of the campaign season came on Aug. 2, when GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a public campaign stop at Basalt High School. The event drew more than 500 people, including a crew of 20 workers from Glenwood Springs-based Gould Construction Co. who voluntarily attended to support Romney’s business policies.
The first order of business for the election year were party caucus meetings held Feb. 7 by Republicans and March 6 by Democrats, followed by countywide party assemblies later in March, and state party conventions held April 13-14.
Locally, eyes were on Republicans, where two GOP candidates were vying for the nominations for House District 57 and Senate District 8. In the HD 57 race, Bob Rankin of Carbondale outpolled Ron Roesener of Battlement Mesa at the state assembly.
In the SD 8 race, incumbent Jean White of Hayden and challenger Randy Baumgardner, who was drawn out of his state House district in redistricting, ran a contentious primary race, with Baumgardner emerging as the winner in the primary election on June 26.
After the Fourth of July, local electioneering heated up, with Democratic challengers taking on Republican incumbents for two seats on the Garfield Board of County Commissioners and the 9th District Attorney’s post.
Sonja Linman challenged four-term incumbent John Martin for the District 2 commissioner seat, and Aleks Briedis challenged one-term incumbent Mike Samson for the District 3 seat. Sherry Caloia challenged incumbent District Attorney Martin Beeson for the three-county 9th District race.
Voters were also being asked to decide on candidates for two seats on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, the 3rd District congressional seat, three statewide ballot questions, including the legalization of marijuana, and a county-level open space sales tax.
And in Rifle, city voters were asked to approve a 0.75 percent sales tax to offset higher water bills for the city’s new water treatment plant.
Overshadowing local politics was the presidential campaign between President Obama, Mitt Romney and more than a dozen third-party candidates. Post Independent readers sent in hundreds of letters to the editor expressing their views on the presidential race, packing the Opinion pages for months.
Candidates walked in parades, knocked on doors, debated in public forums and sent out flyers and emails. Independent organizations, operating under new federal election rules, sent out flyers and placed advertisements on behalf of candidates.
And because Colorado was a swing state in the presidential election, voters were pummeled for months with phone calls, and national campaign contingents swept through the area to rally voters.
Early voting started in mid-October, and it all came to a conclusion on Nov. 6, when Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico tallied votes from a record 94 percent of the county’s 26,000 active voters.
While President Obama swept the country’s popular and Electoral College votes, the GOP prevailed locally with only one exception.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, retained his seat in Congress, Randy Baumgardner prevailed over Democratic challenger Emily Tracy for the state Senate District 8 seat, Bob Rankin handily claimed a victory over Democrat Jo Ann Baxter in the House District 57 race, and Grand Junction Republican Glenn Gallegos won the 3rd District CU Regent’s post over Carbondale Democrat Jessica Garrow.
Incumbent Garfield County Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson held their seats as well. The only GOP loss was the district attorney’s post. (For more on the DA’s story, another of the year’s Top 10, see Monday’s Post Independent.)
State voters legalized marijuana with Amendment 64, county voters trounced a proposal to set a modest sales tax to fund open space and parks purchases, and Rifle voters approved the city’s sales tax measure.
The county commissioners will be sworn in on Jan. 7, the district attorney will be sworn in on Jan. 8, and state legislators will convene for the 69th General Assembly on Jan. 9. The election is finished, and the time to govern will begin.
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