Photo by Brian Ray
Sky Gallegos, deputy CEO for intergovernmental affairs for the Democratic National Convention Committee, speaks to local members of the Democratic Party at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs on Saturday.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Steamboat Springs The Colorado Democratic Party is expecting increased political participation in Routt County leading up to the 2008 presidential election, due to Colorado moving up its caucus date and Denver hosting the Democratic National Convention in August 2008.
The Democratic nominee for president will be confirmed at the convention.
With caucuses coming up in February, state and local Democrats hosted a seminar Saturday at Howelsen Lodge, to educate area voters about the caucus system and the national convention, and to recruit volunteers and delegates for the electoral process.
The 2008 Democratic National Convention will take place Aug. 25 to 28 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. About 38,000 people are expected to attend the convention, including 5,000 party delegates and 15,000 members of the media.
It's an incredible honor for Denver to be hosting, and the 2008 convention will be the first held in an interior western state, said Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party.
"I think this is a great opportunity for us to highlight the importance of the West for the future of the Democratic Party," said Sky Gallegos, deputy CEO for intergovernmental affairs for the Democratic National Convention Committee.
It also is an opportunity for Colorado to cash in.
The convention is expected to bring an economic boost to the Front Range, and the Yampa Valley can benefit as well through tourism, party officials said Saturday.
The convention offers a unique opportunity to market summer in the Rockies, especially because Labor Day weekend follows the event, said Gallegos.
The convention staff has been "bowled over" by how much enthusiasm Coloradoans have shown for the convention, Gallegos said.
The enthusiasm is spreading to Northwest Colorado - about 40 people formed an energetic crowd in Olympian Hall on Saturday.
The convention "creates a level of excitement and interest about the election in the state that we might not otherwise have," added Waak.
Colorado's Republican and Democratic precinct caucuses will be held Feb. 5. Colorado is one of the few remaining states to select all of its nominees through the town-meeting, consensus-style caucuses, rather than a primary election.
After precinct-level caucuses, delegates will head to Routt County's convention, scheduled for March 15.
There will be 100 delegates at the county convention, numbering about five per precinct, said Ken Brenner, chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party.
People interested in being elected a delegate typically campaign in their precinct as if they were running for elected official, Waak said.
"The delegates are really what put us on the path to victory. They have a very important job to do," Gallegos said.
The Democratic presidential candidate with the majority of delegate votes at the national convention will be the party's nominee for president.
Those who want to participate in the caucus process for either the Republican or Democratic Party must be registered to vote with that party affiliation. The deadline to register to vote, change a party affiliation or declare a party affiliation is Dec. 5.
More than a third of voters in Routt County do not state a party affiliation on their voter registration.
"People are shifting away (from the Republican Party), but they aren't coming to our party," Waak said. "They're becoming unaffiliated."
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