Local Republicans rally for presidency at annual Lincoln Day dinner | SteamboatToday.com

Local Republicans rally for presidency at annual Lincoln Day dinner

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton speaks Saturday during the Routt County Republicans Lincoln Day potluck dinner at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that State Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not win every county except Routt County in the 2010 election.

Routt County Republicans gathered Saturday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center with the hopes of taking back the White House in 2012.

About 50 people attended this year's annual Lincoln Day potluck dinner. The Republicans use the event to socialize and to rally behind issues with the hopes of taking more seats in political offices.

"It's important that we stand for principles, but it's also important that we keep that door open," Ryan Call told the Republicans. "Let's be friends."

Call is the chairman of the Colorado Republican Central Committee and was trying to drive home the point that Republicans must be united if they plan on beating President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

"He does not have something we have," Call said. "We have the right principles, but we also have the ability to get beyond the divisions between us."

If it were up to Routt County Republicans, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would take the Republican presidential nomination. That was the party's No. 1 pick during an informal vote during the dinner.

With the election 18 months away, Call encouraged the crowd to begin organizing, fundraising and volunteering now.

"That process starts today," Call said. "We don't have time to fight with ourselves. We have to move forward."

State Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, echoed how important unity was to the Republican party.

"We've got a strong message, and that is what is going to carry us through in 2012," White said.

State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said the party has the ability to take more seats at the state level, as well.

"We can win more seats in the House," Baumgardner said. "We will be able to win and hopefully take the Senate, but it's going to take a lot of hard work."

The keynote speaker during the dinner was State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who Routt County Republican Central Committee Chairman Chuck McConnell pointed out did not win Routt County during the 2010 election. McConnell pledged that would change should Stapleton choose to run for re-election in 2014.

Stapleton, a former businessman, said he won the treasurer's office without a day’s worth of experience in political office.

Stapleton has dedicated much of his energy to Colorado's Public Employee Retirement Association pension system, which he said is severely underfunded.

"The state of Colorado simply cannot afford the promises that are being made," Stapleton said. "This, to me, is absolutely a critical issue.

"Unfixed, the pension system threatens to bankrupt school districts and local governments," Stapleton said.

He said the mentality around the pension system problem is very similar to the national debt in that the problem is being left for future generations to deal with.

"This is a problem which we need to fix today, to stop the bleeding, stop the hemorrhaging," Stapleton said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com