In a race widely considered a toss-up, there was little doubt who Routt County voters wanted representing them in Congress.
Steamboat Springs native Matt Aljanich collected almost 44 percent of the county vote in Tuesday's Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District, but it wasn't enough to claim victory in the massive 29-county district.
As of late Tuesday, former Department of Natural Resources director Greg Walcher and state Rep. Matt Smith were locked in a neck-and-neck race that appeared headed to a recount. With all precincts reporting, Walcher held a 275-vote lead over Smith. Walcher had 32 percent of the vote; Smith had 31 percent. Glenwood Springs state Rep. Gregg Rippy received 16 percent of the vote, Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino received 12 percent of the vote and Aljanich received 9 percent of the vote.
"I think what we were able to do in a short period of time was significant," said Aljanich, the last of the five candidates to enter the race. "Had I had more time, perhaps I would have done better."
Aljanich, who was an all-state basketball player under Steamboat Springs High School coach Kelly Meek, said he was thrilled with the support he received from Routt County voters.
"It makes me feel great," he said. "Politics is a lot about having met the person. Our family has met a lot of people in Routt County over the years."
The 37-year-old United Airlines pilot and decorated Gulf War veteran declined to throw his support behind Smith or Walcher until a winner is named.
"I'm going to support whoever the nominee is," Aljanich said. "It's important we hold onto the seat."
The 3rd Congressional District seat is considered by both major political parties to be one of the most important open seats in this year's elections. The seat has been a Republican stronghold under six-term Rep. Scott McInnis, but his decision not to seek re-election opened the door for a Democratic Party eager to cut into the GOP majority in Congress.
Unlike the vote for the 3rd Congressional District seat, Routt County voters reflected the rest of the state electorate in the Democratic and Republican primaries for U.S. Senate.
Nearly 66 percent of Routt County's Republican voters punched their ballots for brewery executive Pete Coors, a political newcomer. Coors, who easily defeated opponent Bob Schaffer, received about 61 percent of the vote statewide.
On the Democratic side, 64 percent of Routt County voters chose state Attorney General Ken Salazar over Fountain educator Mike Miles. Salazar defeated Miles in the overall state election by a 74 percent to 26 percent margin.
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