Our View: County is best served when both parties are viable


Editorial Board, August through January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Shannon Lukens, community representative
  • Scott Ford, community representative

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Routt County voters are best served when they have choices and the two-party system helps to ensure that those choices are ever present.

One might assume, based on the results of the Nov. 6 election, that the two-party system in Routt County is on life support, if not already dead. On the surface, it seems the Democrats are in full control. President Barack Obama carried the county with 58 percent support, and every Democrat on the ballot won the county with at least 55 percent support. The legalization of marijuana, viewed largely as a liberal cause, got the support of 63 percent of county residents, including 69 percent in Steamboat Springs.

The general election numbers could lead some to the conclusion that the county simply has been overrun by pot-smoking, big-government liberals. How else to explain the complete political reversal of a decade ago, when the Republican Party largely controlled local politics?

We draw a different conclusion. After all, among active voters in Routt County, more people still identify themselves as Republicans (4,420) than Democrats (4,303). But it is the county’s 5,456 unaffiliated voters where the Democrats truly are winning the day.

The bottom line this year is that Democrats did a much better job of asking for votes from independents than the Republicans. Democratic Party chairwoman Catherine Carson and her team were much more visible and active. Republican Party chairman Dave Moloney admitted as much after the election.

“The ground game is important, and as hard as we worked, they were more successful in getting people to the polls,” Moloney said the day after the election. “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.”

Republicans appeared to count too heavily on voters casting ballots against Democrats, from President Obama on down, rather than in favor of Republicans. Such a strategy puts anger before vision and message, and rarely works.

“When I started this process in June, I didn’t realize just how much of an endangered species Republicans are in Routt County,” said Jim “Moose” Barrows, who ran for county commissioner in District 1 and lost. “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.”

Barrows is right. Republicans may have the right answers on the economy, the deficit, government spending and taxes, but they have to do a better job of selling voters on their plans than they did in 2012. And if they aren’t able to moderate the party’s tone on social issues, they will have a hard time winning a seat on the Routt County Board of Commissioners, much less the presidency.

The good news is, the independents aren’t going anywhere. They will make up the majority of voters in the next Routt County election and their votes again will be up for grabs. We hope Republicans learn from the experience of 2012 and re-engage for 2014 and beyond. We think that the public is best served when both parties field competitive candidates, engage in a rigorous debate of ideas and aggressively sell their message to voters.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

I doubt the get out the vote effort explains why independent voters went more than 60% for the Democrats.

It is pretty silly to say "How else to explain the complete political reversal of a decade ago, when the Republican Party largely controlled local politics?" without once mentioning demographics changing the profile of local voters. Are the number of Hispanics really unchanged over the past 10 years?

Parties also have been changing so that Democrats are now much stronger among young single voters. That would seem to favor Democrats over Republicans.


rhys jones 4 years, 3 months ago

Well there goes any pretense of impartiality or objectivity. Sorry your boys left your best horse in the stable, Pilot. The pot victory crossed all party lines. All the canvassing you can do won't do you any good; you're putting lipstick on a pig. Get with the times.


Fred Duckels 4 years, 3 months ago

Greg Gutfield aptly put it that the left is very adept at convincing the voters that they are not who they really are. I do not buy the pandering free stuff that ill educated voters find so attractive. First we have a huge financial mess that we can never solve when $10.00 gas is a priority. All the periphial social issues surface at election time to be used as political tools. The old adage that a Republican would rather be right than be president is alive and well. The voters that buy this folly are being fooled and they will be the first to riot in the streets demanding their free stuff.


Michelle Hale 4 years, 3 months ago

"Obama won 60 percent of the 18 to 29 year old vote and 52 percent of the 30-40 vote. He won 69 percent of the vote in big cities and 58 percent of the vote in mid-sized cities. He won 93 percent of the black vote and more than 70 percent of both the Asian vote and the Hispanic vote. He won over half of the female vote. And he won 76 percent of the gay, lesbian and bisexual vote.

Mitt Romney won the white vote, the male vote, the elderly vote, the small cities vote and the high-income vote.

The base of Democratic support in this country is expanding. The Republican base is shrinking, becoming more racially homogenous, more rural and older.

Republicans are trying to hold back a storm surge of demographic change with a white picket fence. Good luck with that."

It aint Kansas anymore Dorthy! Women stood up! Sick of conversations about, a "real" rape, or our magical vaginas that can stop getting pregnant.....and all from the GOP. The one that got me fired up is even in rape if a woman gets pregnant, its still a gift, are you kidding me? 52 Women are now in Washington, more than any other time in history. Wake up GOP.

It is my own personal view the first thing they need to do, is rid themselves of the Religious Right. The GOP is prolife until the child gets here and they are on thier own. Against Wellfare, unless its for Corporations. They embrace the constitution unless is was to shove more religious dogma at the rest of us. Pro economny, but voted againt the jobs bill. Pro War, but voted against Vets Bill and helping those same people fighting. Pro "less" government unless it has to do with between a womans legs, or the NDAA that took away our first amendment rights; THAT was attached to the PAY of service men and women. If not signed these families would have been months with out pay, or help of any kind.The GOP now stand for Gone Omnipotent & Polarized.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

Fred, Your post strikes me as similar to Clint Eastwood's conversation with the empty chair. You are railing against a Democratic Party that exists only in the minds of conservative Republicans.

The Republican Party is not losing because they are promising responsibility and so are losing voters to a Democratic Party promising a free lunch. It was Romney promising tax cuts, increased defense spending and increased Medicare. It is Republicans that promise tax cuts are free and automatically pay for themselves.


Bob Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

fred is an angry old white man. boo-hoo. it ain't 1950 any more, fred. wake up


Harvey Lyon 4 years, 3 months ago

The election is over but the facts remain the same. We spend more than we make and have for some time. There are many good programs the Government wishes to fund but the fact remains that we can't afford to fund all of them. The fact also remains that each year our debt increases (22% more this past September than 2011's September). At some point the Government won't be able to fund anything be they Republican or Democratic priorities.

Revenue and spending go hand in hand as everyone knows. Right now the disgreement is pretty much a matter of trust. The Democratic Party wants to raise taxes on the "rich" (revenue) and address spending later. Raising taxes on the rich is mostly symbolic as there really aren't all that many "rich folks", like they say, only 1%. The Republican Party is okay with an increase in revenue but wants more than a wooden nickle when it comes to spending reductions.

Our ability to afford anything shrinks every day, business growth (read taxable income) is lethargic at best and spending remains high. The cost of borrowing is historically low but many don't want to borrow at any cost as they don't see a investment they can make that will make them more than even the low cost of borrowing money. It really doesn't matter what the program is, National Defense to medicaide, Planned Parenthood to Education, to what-have-you, at some point we won't be able to afford any of it. This truly is a "hang together or we shall all hang seperately" moment and might be a good time to back off what we demand of our Government.


Dave Moloney 4 years, 3 months ago

My quote from above was from early on the Wednesday morning after the election and before I had a chance to look very closely at the details of the election results. The local republican party worked hard this election cycle and I believe did an excellent job of rallying the conservative base and swaying some independent voters. In fact, President Obama received 6.1% less of the Routt County vote in 2012 than he did in 2008. Mitt Romney received 5.4% more of the vote than did John McCain and the even more conservative Gary Johnson received 1.4% of the vote. However, Scott is right that we couldn't have won Routt County with just an improved voter turnout. The unaffiliated voters of Routt County clearly leaned to the left in this election. The local Republican party is open to people of all stripes that believe that the government should work for the people and not the other way around. We will continue to promote our philosophies that to insure freedom and liberty we must take personal responsibility, that government should play a limited role in our lives, that we know better than the government how to spend our money(lower taxes),that free market capitalism and success are to be embraced not demonized and that a military sufficient to deter our enemies is our best path to peace. Harvey rightly points out that the revenue for either Democratic or Republican priorities will soon be in jeopardy. We will soon see higher taxes, that is almost certain. The question is, will we see any serious attempt at cutting spending or will we continue to pretend that America is somehow immune to the effects of trying to live on borrowed money?


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

Harvey, You are right that Democrats are talking more about raising taxes now and cutting programs later.

It is less accurate to say that there isn't much money in raising taxes on the wealthy. Increasing the top tax rate just 3% to return to the rates during Reagan's presidency raises $100+ billion a year.

That is substantially less than the current deficit, but military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been very expensive. That spending is projected to decrease sharply.

What deeply annoys Democrats on the topic of budget deficits is that Clinton left office with surplus. In fact, the Republican Congress asked Alan Greenspan if large deficits for many years would hurt the markets and the economy. And Greenspan answered that yes, large deficits were bad and thus helped justify the Bush Tax cuts. And generally, how the Bush Administration along with Congressional Republicans converted a budget surplus to budget deficits during economic good times and didn't care about budget deficits. And then suddenly when there is a fiscal crisis and a severe recession these same Republicans are now concerned with deficits.


John Weibel 4 years, 3 months ago

Scott, $100 billion/year is less than the current deficit? Seems to me we are running 1-2 trillion a year in deficit spending.

Forget the two party system, it leads to focusing on issues that divide us and issues which really are not going to go anywhere. We need a viable third party to break the corporate controlled two party system which exists today.


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

Citizens vote for Uncle Scam to raises taxes on bakers.

Uncle Scam raises taxes on bakers.

Bakers raise the price of bread to compensate for increased taxes.

Citizens curse the bakers for raising prices and demand Uncle Scam "do something"!!!

Uncle Scam sets price limits on bread.

Bakers stop baking bread because no profit can be made baking bread for less than it costs.

Citizens starve for lack of bread.

Some bakers drink vodka all day because no profit in baking bread. Other bakers move to country where baking bread is still profitable.

"Official" price of bread is at record low but no bread on the shelves.


Enjoy your "victory".


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

Oh, boohoo. Your guy lost. Now you once again say the country is doomed. Cry yourself a river.

The store had plenty of bread last night and there is no sign of them running out. But you see the verge of starvation. Oh well, enjoy your day.


rhys jones 4 years, 3 months ago

Soon the bakers will be able to legally smoke away their woes. They'll save money right there, not to mention kill themselves more slowly.


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

My point was not that this will happen or is happening at any certain time. Nor was it that a single election would cause it.

The point was that when taxes are increased on businesses or any producer those costs are ALWAYS passed to the end consumer and that it is a fool who thinks he can continue to pay the same price for goods and services while putting ever-increasing costs on the production of those goods and services.

Furthermore, if those prices are not allowed to be increased, ie held artificially low by gubbamint decree, production will slow and scarcity will result.

A case of that EXACT THING happening is the gas shortages in New Jersey and NY. Prices are not allowed to rise cause the gubbamint protects folks from "gouging", which is nothing more than market prices adjusting to mirrior REALITY, which Americans can no longer handle. Therefore, scarcity is the result. If prices were allowed to rise to 8, 9, or 10 dollars/ gal then gas would be more available and it would gradually return to normal prices as the supply returns. I'm sure this is not nearly complex enough for your towering intellect to absorb, Scott, but it is reality, nonetheless.


Harvey Lyon 4 years, 3 months ago


There are deficits and then there are DEFICITS. When a bond sale fails things change fast a furious and other Nations will be calling the shots....witness Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, Egypt, Palestine, lots lots more. Our Government spending lacks a well thought out list of priorities.

Our soldiers take hundred of thousands of dollars to put one soldier, trained and equipped, on the field of battle to enforce our foreign policy and national security. We design ships that cost $7 billion, wanted 32, now scaled back to 3. And all is naught if the local folks we're fighting for aren't really concerned enough to take up the lion's share of the fight to start with.

We spend billions and billions on fellow citizens that made bad decisions in their past. Perhaps they built a house on sand near the ocean (old parables about this), perhaps they blew off their education opportunities and developing skills offering flexible future gainful employment. Perhaps they bought a house that hoped for the best and planned for the best. We set examples daily that say "The State" will take care of you....but "The State" is us, Government has no magic wand for the long term. Even the biggest machine can only carry so much.

And, we as a Country, have to decide what are priorities are. A rich Nation has many options and a poor Nation, not so many.

Scott....the past remains prologue. Watching the Newscasts of folks effected by Sandy many "claim their rights were violated", their right to help, their right to consumable power, their right to shelter. Some say a "right to education", a right to health care, a right to clean water and clean air, a right to a comfortable life in old age. Rich Nations can, and should, help them, but there is no right to this and we need to spell this out in no uncertain terms. "Rights" remain spelled out in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Our ability to "help" is largely dependant on our ability to produce more than we need. And right now we're consuming more than we produce by a large amount (roughly 30%).

But what really bothers me is our insistance that "the sun will come out tomorrow" even if we stay on the same course. As a man who spent years, and I mean YEARS at sea, I know for a fact.....its much easier to make a 1 degree course change early in the voyage to your destination than it is to make a radical course change late in the voyage. A required radical course change means the ship may have to go thru storms it didn't plan on going thru, less options available. Ultimately one may never reach the port they wished to. Worst case is they founder and lose all hands. I also have friends who drowned trying to help out friends who never got around to learning to swim. Heroic yes....but dead just the same.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

Clinton left office with a budget surplus for Bush. So we can look back and see what it takes. We are not impossibly far being able to fix the situation.

But it does not make economic sense to require a balanced budget during a recession. It would make more sense to look at the added costs of unemployed workers that are now not paying taxes and so on as acceptable costs during a recession. But it should be set up so that there are sizable deficits when the economy is doing okay and there most certainly should be surpluses when the economy is doing well.

In a modern world, there is a general right to things like clean water, electricity and so on. That does not mean that unlimited spending is warranted to guarantee that things are never disrupted.


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

Scott, Would you say that Americans have a right to own slaves?


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

But how can one have a "right" to electricity, which comes only from the labor of a man, unless that one also has a "right" to compel another man to provide it, and in doing so makes that other man a slave?

The answer is simple. Man has NO RIGHT to ANYTHING that has to be produced by another man. Not to fresh water, not to electricity, housing, food, healthcare.

Whenever someone says there is a right to such things, they are saying there is a right to hold other men as slaves.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

Electricity is a monopoly utility. The electric companies as part of their monopoly are required to provide service at a fair price that includes a profit.

How anyone could claim that is in any way has the slightest connection to slavery is astonishing.


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

We were not talking about "at a fair price". We were not talking about "at market prices". Trying to cover a terrible assertion by adding "at a fair price" now is a nice try.

We were talking about your assertion that there is "a general right to things like clean water, electricity, and so on..." You didn't mention a price.

There is no disputing that every person should be free to ENTER THE MARKETPLACE and PURCHASE things AT MARKET PRICES. But this is not what you claimed.

Whenever someone says there is a general right to ANYTHING which requires another mans labor to provide, they are saying there is right to hold other men as slaves. For how else is that thing, to which they claim a right, going to be produced and provided??? How anyone could deny that fact is astonishing.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 3 months ago

Where in the US is electricity service provided for free?

As a monopoly utility, the electric company must provide service to everyone in their service area on the same rate schedule. The electric company cannot say that they dislike someone and thus cut them off. People in an electric company's service area have a legally protected right to receive service at a fair price.

That is not like a restaurant or other private business which is free to deny service to individuals they dislike and can close whichever days they wish.


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

That is NOT what you claimed, Scott. You said "there is a general right to ... electricity..."

There most certainly is not a general right to electricity. There is a general right to enter the market and buy electricity.

BIG DIFFERENCE. You are back-tracking now rather than admitting you were wrong.

Also, There is no freedom (at least for me) to deny service to individuals [I] dislike. If I did that to perspective tennants in my rental property I would get in trouble. However, there SHOULD BE such a right as anyone should be free to enter into contracts or not enter contracts with whomever they wish.


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