Steamboat Springs Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is revving local Republicans like a snowmobile with a high-powered engine.
A week after Democrats flooded Colorado for their party's national convention, which brought more than 80,000 to Invesco Field in Denver on Aug. 28 and catapulted U.S. Sen. Barack Obama to a burst of momentum in the race for the White House, local Republicans found an answer in St. Paul. As the vice presidential choice of U.S. Sen. John McCain, Palin put the spark to a convention Routt County Republicans found energetic, exciting and very relevant to Northwest Colorado.
"I think Palin's interests and background will reach right into Routt County," said Vance Halvorson, chairman of the Routt County Republican Central Committee. "We have a lot of hunters and outdoor people who really identify with values expressed by Palin. : I think people are excited."
Geneva and Jack Taylor, of Steamboat Springs, witnessed that excitement firsthand Wednesday night, from the floor of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The pair of Steamboat Springs residents - Jack Taylor is a state senator in his final year of service - were part of the Colorado delegation at this year's Republican convention, with seats next to delegations from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Wednesday night, Geneva Taylor said, Republicans from across the country rose when Palin took the stage.
"I don't think there was anyone sitting down - not a person," Geneva Taylor said Saturday. "They just stood up and gave her an ovation that you cannot believe - and the same with McCain."
The McCain-Palin ticket focused last week on a need to reform Washington, D.C. - McCain said Friday that "it's over for special interests" - and President George W. Bush spoke to the convention only briefly Tuesday night, via video. Geneva Taylor said the convention was more about the party's future than its present.
"They're going to make some changes, and they'll be positive changes," she said of McCain and Palin. "It's going to be a different administration. It's going to be more like the Reagan years."
Halvorson said a key difference between the presidential candidates is tax policy, especially pertaining to home sales.
"I think the tax policy of Obama is very damaging to mountain and ski communities," Halvorson said. "Economic wealth here is so tied up in people's homes."
Speculation about increased taxing of home sale profits - or profits from capital gains, meaning from the sale of personal assets - has been widely circulated.
According to factcheck.org, a consumer advocacy publication by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, "both Obama and McCain would continue to exempt the first $250,000 of gain from the sale of a primary residence ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) which results in zero tax on all but a very few home sales."
But in Routt County, home sales above $500,000 are the norm, not the exception.
"I think we in the mountains are really going to be hit hard with that one," Halvorson said of increased taxes for higher incomes or sales.
According to politifact.com, a project of Congressional Quarterly and the St. Petersburg Times, "the true difference is that McCain intends to leave the long-term capital gains tax at 15 percent, while Obama intends to raise it to about 25 percent for taxpayers reporting income of $250,000 or more per year."
Catherine Carson of the Routt County Democratic Party said last week's convention did not address crucial topics.
"They didn't discuss the health care crisis, the mortgage crisis, the economic straits that we're in. : John McCain's policies on those issues are very similar to George Bush's," she said. "Those policies have dug a very deep hole for our country."
Carson also said Routt County residents who love the outdoors will not, in fact, agree with the environmental stance of a McCain-Palin ticket, largely because of Republican support for drilling.
"I think people who live in a very beautiful place recognize that purely drilling without control is a huge mistake," Carson said.
The Taylors, driving home Saturday from a meeting in Grand Junction, said the busy week left them far more energized than tired.
"We just think that she is what we've been looking for," Geneva Taylor added.