Republicans ready to rumble

GOP election rally draws small crowd, big passions

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Ethan Hansen, 4, sits on the shoulders of his father, Jim Hansen, Saturday at the "GOP Victory Rally 2006," hosted by the county Republican Party on the Routt County Courthouse lawn. Bob Martinez, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, was the featured speaker at the rally. State Sen. Jack Taylor also spoke to the crowd of almost 40 people.

— If the inflatable elephant had been alive on the Routt County Courthouse lawn Saturday, it would have reared on its hind legs and trumpeted.

Despite a small public turnout, a crowd of about Republican supporters gave an adrenaline shot to the local party during an energetic "GOP Victory Rally 2006." The event featured speeches from a variety of GOP candidates as well as state Sen. Jack Taylor of Steamboat Springs and Colorado Republican Party Chairman Bob Martinez.

"Colorado is looked upon as a targeted state," Martinez said, citing his return yesterday from national party offices in Washington, D.C. "There's a lot at stake, ladies and gentlemen."

In addition to electing a new governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer - plus deciding on 14 ballot issues and numerous regional and local races, Martinez said this year's vote also will determine which gubernatorial candidate will appoint several new state Supreme Court judges. The election also could effect how Colorado votes in the presidential election of 2008.

Martinez reminded the crowd of 1974, when Democrats won elections across the U.S. in the wake of the Vietnam War.

"That was the forerunner of the election of Jimmy Carter (in 1976), who engineered a period of nationwide malaise, and, if you think about it, a period of radical Islamic fascism," Martinez said, saying that Iran grew in power during and after the Carter presidency. "That's what can happen again, if we elect Democrats to Congress."

Martinez highlighted the governor's race between Repub-lican U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez of Arvada and Democratic district attorney Bill Ritter of Denver, along with the race for U.S. Congress in the Third Congressional District - a contest between Democrat U.S. Rep. John Salazar of Manassa and Republican businessman Scott Tipton of Cortez.

Tipton played on traditional partisan colors Saturday - and Democratic claims that Colorado is a "blue state" - to predict Republican victory.

"All they're going to be is black and blue," Tipton said about Democrats on Election Day. "And all they're going to be seeing is red."

State Rep. Al White of Winter Park, who is running for re-election against Grand County Democrat Andy Gold, cited a need for GOP unity. State Republicans recently have disagreed on issues including Referendum C, a tax initiative approved by state voters in 2005; immigration reform laws; and lengthy, argumentative campaigning for governor between Beauprez and Republican Marc Holtzman, a former University of Denver president who failed to make the ballot for the primary election Aug. 8.

"There is a rift in our party," White said. "I don't care if you don't like a Republican candidate on the ballot - it is your obligation as a Republican to vote for Republican candidates. If you allow your malaise to elect the Democrats, then we all lose."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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