Democrats gather for assembly

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At the Routt County Democratic Party's county assembly Saturday, local liberals continued to show their support for the Salazar brothers' Congressional campaigns.

Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar and his brother, Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, received the most votes respectively from Routt County Democrats, which will give the two a boost at the Democratic state caucus to be held in Pueblo on May 21 and 22.

However, some in attendance said they were voting on name recognition, or for the candidate they thought could "actually win."

Of 59 Routt County precinct delegate votes for the U.S. Senate race, Ken Salazar received 41 votes, and Mike Miles, D-Colorado Springs, received 18 votes. Of the 22 delegates Routt County is obligated to send to the Democratic state caucus, 15 of those delegates will vote for Ken Salazar, and seven will vote for Miles.

For the Third Congressional District, in a preference poll of the 22 state-caucus-bound delegates, John Salazar received 15 votes; Jim Spehar, D-Grand Junction, received five votes; and Randy Fricke received two votes.

Preference poll votes could be changed at the state caucus, while delegated votes must represent the votes cast at Saturday's county assembly.

"It's been a while since we've had such strong candidates," said Routt County Democratic Party Chairman Ken Brenner. "Colorado has a good chance to put some Democrats in office."

The 22 delegates also voted via preference polls on U.S. presidential candidates, with 17 votes for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass; four votes for Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; and one vote uncommitted.

The more than 100 Democrats participating in the county caucus also voiced opinions on several issues that initially were presented at the precinct-level caucuses April 14. Those issues have been refined since then and were presented Saturday as resolutions.

Resolutions approved Saturday to be passed along at the state Democratic caucus include: re-evaluating the Colorado Student Assessment Program; supporting adequate government funding for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security programs; supporting universal health care; supporting higher education; and supporting the Healthy Veterans Act.

"This is the only section of the state where vets don't have basic health care services," party secretary Jim Stanko said. "They have to go all the way to Grand Junction for health care."

One resolution to reintroduce the military draft was turned down almost unanimously.

Ben Beall, representing Routt County Precinct 7, said the draft would be a good way to raise awareness of issues and reasons for war.

"Would you use our kids as pawns to change politics?" asked Democrat Meg Bentley, whose comments were echoed by many in the room.

Other resolutions proposed include approving new developments only with proof of a sustainable water source; opposing state action that would regulate abortion; making election ballots verifiable and accurate; and supporting job creation.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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