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Steamboat Springs Routt County Republican Party leaders went to bed disappointed Tuesday night after watching their party fall short of the presidency as well as lose three of four local races to the Democrats.
But when they woke up Wednesday morning, local GOPers, along with their three unsuccessful local candidates, didn’t wait long to start planning a comeback.
“If anybody’s got any guts, you should roll up your sleeves and get ready to work like hell,” Will Potter told the Routt County Republican Central Committee at its monthly meeting Wednesday. “If you don’t, get in the bread line and make out the best way you can because that’s where we’re headed, folks.”
Potter’s speech to a room of about 20 Republicans included several calls for the party to remain vocal and passionate in the wake of a disappointing election night.
Everyone in the room acknowledged the local party has some major challenges to overcome, including a growing and well-organized Democratic contingent in Routt County.
Republicans here took it on the chin Tuesday night.
Aside from state Rep. Randy Baumgardner’s decisive victory in the race for Senate District 8 — he took five of seven counties but lost in Routt and Summit — Republicans here were defeated handily in two county commissioner races and in the race for House District 26.
Reflecting on the losses at the Routt County Courthouse on Wednesday, GOP leaders said their party needs to adopt a more focused message and reach out to young voters by better explaining to them the financial burdens Republicans say they could inherit by government entitlement programs like Obamacare.
“The message that we have to stop spending money, that we have to be more fiscally responsible, did not resonate with the voters,” Routt County Republican Chairman Dave Moloney said. “And now we’ll see what comes of that over the next several years. In my estimation, it’s going to be disastrous for the country.”
Others at the meeting were quick to criticize President Barack Obama and lament that their party’s message of fiscal conservatism didn’t attract enough independent voters to prevail on Election Day.
And the candidates who didn’t succeed here in Routt County said they learned some lessons.
“When I started this process in June, I didn’t realize just how much of an endangered species Republicans are in Routt County,” Jim “Moose” Barrows said, reflecting on his unsuccessful race for the Board of Commissioners' District 1 seat. “I think there are a lot of things we need to do as a party. We need to try and separate ourselves from the far right wing of the party (that) so many people identify Republicans with.”
Amid the gloom of Tuesday's local losses, many in the room Wednesday were defiant.
“Chuck McConnell, and we cannot quit,” the unsuccessful House District 26 candidate said when roll was called at the start of the meeting.
Moloney attributed his party’s losses in local races to the area’s growing Democratic electorate and its superior get-out-the-vote efforts. He said local Democrats knocked on 2,000 doors as Election Day neared and successfully got young voters to the polls.
Both parties' path to victory here depends on turnout efforts and attracting independent voters. While final voter registration breakdowns weren’t available Wednesday, figures released as the Oct. 9 registration deadline neared showed Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters each representing about one-third of the electorate in Routt County.
Moloney and the Republicans said the next election will arrive quickly, and they voted Wednesday to form a new strategy committee to position the party for victory in 2014.
“The ground game is important, and as hard as we worked, they were more successful in getting people to the polls yesterday,” Moloney said, referring to local Democrats. “I think the election shows that Steamboat Springs in particular has moved a little bit further to the left. We have to look at how we can better formulate our message to reach independent voters and the youth vote and women voters and drive home some of these conservative principles.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com