John McCain declared winner of GarCo election

John McCain: You’re a winner after all — at least in Garfield County.

An election night 11,223-11,223 tie between McCain and Barack Obama has been broken, following the
counting of provisional ballots this week. It turns out McCain won Garfield County by a whopping two votes, 11,359-11,357.

The latest count finally decides for political observers whether Garfield County should appear red or blue on maps of this year’s election results.

“They were saying we were the purple county because we were dead even,” County Clerk Jean Alberico said.

But Alberico, a Democrat, isn’t ready to call Garfield a red, or Republican, county in terms of the presidential vote. She thinks such a close margin gives it more of a fuchsia shade.

The county ended up counting 243 of about 330 provisional ballots, which were cast in cases such as those where voters weren’t in polling books or failed to change their addresses with the county clerk or show up at the correct polling place. Alberico said provisional ballots weren’t counted in instances in which voters turned out not to have been registered to vote in the county.

Since twice siding with Franklin Roosevelt, Garfield County has voted Democratic for president only twice — in 1964 for Lyndon Johnson and in 1992 for Bill Clinton. The county’s Democratic Party chair,
Ed Sands, said it would have been nice to win the county this year but that the important thing was to win the state, which Democrats did.

“We contributed to that with our votes,” he said.

With Colorado being seen as a swing state in a potentially close national election, Obama’s campaign staff put field operations Garfield and Mesa counties, hoping to get as many votes as they could even if they didn’t win those counties.

Sands said it was still significant that a black candidate got the volume of votes Obama did in Garfield County.

Republicans also won election in two close county commissioner races in the county. One of the victors, longtime incumbent Commissioner John Martin, isn’t looking at McCain’s win in the county as any kind of moral victory for a party that he thinks needs to make some changes. He had hoped the presidential results would remain a tie just for the novelty of it.

He also thinks the small margins of victories by Republicans in the county speak to the diversity of its residents.

“I’m really proud of us for being that close,” he said.


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