This year's election is barely a week old, and they're still counting votes in Denver, but it's never too early to look ahead.
Dusting off the crystal ball shows a clear truth for at least the next two years in Routt County: get used to lengthy ballots and lawn signs that spread faster than hippies at a Rainbow gathering.
Steamboat Springs voters will elect five City Council members in 2007, enough to vote a majority onto the seven-member council, while also possibly deciding on a more thorough version of the $18 million recreation center that just missed this year's ballot. A tax increase at the ski base to provide a funding source for operations and maintenance of redevelopment projects could also make the ballot.
And that's the off year.
The 2008 election ballot could make the 2006 ballot look like scrap paper.
In two years, Routt County voters will spin that big, electronic dial to make choices for a president, a U.S. senator, a U.S. representative, a state senator, a state representative, and two Routt County commissioners, not to mention whatever ballot issues and referenda come out of the woodwork.
For example, it's a safe bet that Denver organizer Mason Tvert and the SAFER campaign to legalize possession of marijuana will be back. While that campaign deserved the thumping it got this year, Referendum I, the expansion of domestic partnership rights, did not. Hopefully Colorado voters will see something like that again.
Ballot issues aside, the candidate races in 2008 will be fascinating.
I'm far from an expert on the presidential race, but I will say this: I don't think Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is ready. Arizona Senator John McCain is. Hillary is ready, too, but the jury is out on whether America, Democrat or Republican, is ready for Hillary. And look for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, to get in the mix somewhere, possibly as a potential vice president.
In Colorado, Wayne Allard's Senate seat will be up for grabs in 2008. If Allard runs for re-election, he likely will face stiff competition from Boulder Democrat Mark Udall, a representative so confident of his recent re-election that not only did he spend the Saturday before Election Day in Steamboat Springs, well outside of his congressional district, but Udall loaned campaign guru Alan Salazar to newly elected Congressman Ed Perlmutter.
Here in the Third Congressional District, Republicans will have to think long and hard during the next year about who they want to challenge U.S. Rep. John Salazar, who turned a solid campaign from Cortez businessman Scott Tipton into a more than 20-point landslide.
A name to remember for Congress in 2010, though, is Republican Josh Penry of Grand Junction. Penry followed his first term in the state House with election to the state Senate last week. Penry is young, smart, and charismatic, a near lock for a future Congressional or U.S. Senate campaign.
Also in 2008, the state Senate seat currently held by Steamboat Republican Jack Taylor will be open, as will the state House seat Winter Park Republican Al White just won for the fourth time. Taylor and White both will be term-limited.
Finally, Routt County will elect two county commissioners in 2008, in the seats currently held by Republican Nancy Stahoviak and Democrat Doug Monger.
With all the upcoming races and candidates, there is only one prediction that is easy to make for Routt County, Colorado, and the nation: many more people will vote early or by absentee ballot.
Call it a hunch.