Candidates converge on Grand Junction
With the general election one week away, the focus for candidates in this year’s races has turned away from campaigning to getting out the vote.
But because early voting numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office as of Monday show 25,000 more Republicans than Democrats already have cast their ballots, Democratic candidates are spending time touring the state in an effort to get diehard supporters to persuade others to vote, too.
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, Secretary of State Bernie Buescher and Hickenlooper’s lieutenant governor running mate, Joe Garcia, were in Grand Junction to do just that.
“We desperately need your help to try to get the vote out,” Hickenlooper told a crowd that gathered to meet the candidates at the Mesa County Democratic Headquarters at 448 Main St. “Call your friends, send that e-mail, make sure that everybody votes. Our greatest enemy is complacency. You guys have to go out, please, and call friends, talk to friends. These races will be won by those who work extra harder, who take a little bit extra effort.”
Hickenlooper and Salazar have been on a multi-city bus tour of the state designed to energize the party’s base. That tour will continue south through Silverton and Durango before heading east toward Pueblo.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Republican Party is also busy with its get-out-the-vote effort, said party chairman Dick Wadhams.
The party has a long-standing program that’s proven successful in the past, and this year should be no different, he said.
“Their problems are deeper than just their voters not voting, it has to do with unaffiliated voters who just aren’t with them this time,” Wadhams said of the Democrats. “A great deal has been written about the vaunted Obama turnout operation that still exists. We are going to exceed that operation.”
The latest figures show that 184,982 Republicans already have voted either by mail or through early voting. At the same time, 159,882 Democrats and 95,926 unaffiliated voters have cast a ballot so far.
Still, that’s about 20 percent of all active Democratic and Republican voters in the state, but only about 13 percent unaffiliated.
Hickenlooper said Democrats need to reach out not only to those unaffiliated voters, but Republicans, too.
He said that’s partly why he didn’t run any negative ads attacking his two opponents in the race, Republican Dan Maes and American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo.
“There’s a reason why General Motors never does an attack ad against Ford or Toyota,” Hickenlooper said. “When you do an attack ad, you’re not just tearing down the product or the person you’re attacking, you’re also diminishing all the people that believe in that person or use that product. So, after the campaign, they’re not going to come together.”